Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Opinion Piece Upsets Students; Paper Gets Trashed

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Opinion Piece Upsets Students; Paper Gets Trashed

Article excerpt

A CAMPUS ASIAN-AMERICAN newspaper's intended satire of Asian males backfired when enraged students reportedly trashed hundreds of copies.

An official of the University of California, San Diego, said an investigation that could lead to disciplinary action was under way in connection with the recent incident, the latest in a rash of such actions on U.S. college campuses.

The opinion piece, written by an Asian-American student, was published in the campus publication, Momentum, a tri-quarterly tabloid directed primarily at Asian-Pacific Islander students on campus.

Headlined "A Little 'Mail,'" the article in part said, "Asian-American males are extremely short .... No wonder Asian-American men exemplify the ideal women as petite, thin and delicate. Doing so probably makes them feel more masculine, much like a Chihuahua would seem when standing next to a baby chick.

"As for physical build? Practically non-existent. It's safe to say that most Asian men are skinny to the point of scrawniness ... he probably has a small penis. And doesn't that just say it all?

"With such short stature and substandard builds, would you expect Asian-American males to be athletic? Besides karate and kung fu, forget it."

The writer, Ivy Lee, then went on to describe Asians as having superiority in computer science or pre-med classes.

"When it comes to these subjects, where can you go if you don't seek the help of an Asian man?" she wrote.

The article was accompanied by a cartoon showing muscular, hairy masculine legs in Nike high-tops with a chicken peeking behind the figure.

Momentum editor in chief Joanne Tashiro said 2,000 copies of the issue were stolen within an hour of distribution to various campus sites. She said she saw two Asian-American males remove about 100 copies from a rack and toss them into a dumpster.

"They said they had every right to take the papers since they were free," Tashiro added.

David Lee, a senior and co-founder of Momentum, said he had removed some copies of the tabloid because he and other Asian-American students were "pissed off" by the piece.

"We put trash where it belongs," he added.

The Korean-American student disputed Tashiro's figure of 2,000 papers dumped, saying it would be impossible to dispose of that many in two hours.

However, he noted that when a bundle of papers arrived at his office in the school's affirmative-action section, instead of distributing them, he put them in the hallway where they were picked up by a custodian.

David Lee said Ivy Lee's attempt at satire failed.

"It was unclear what she was trying to say, but it made us look foolish. It was the worst kind of stereotyping. The paper has no substance. She [Tashiro] will print anything without editing. I believe in a free press, but there has to be responsibility. Momentum has become a one-woman rampage?"

David Lee was quoted in the San Diego Union-Tribune as saying, "I felt like someone had slapped me across the face. People were outraged. It [removing the papers] was immediate action, tangible and fairly gratifying. Throwing things away makes a powerful statement. Burning it might have been better if we'd wanted to make a much stronger statement. The article made Asian males the lowest of men."

The editors of Momentum, which is funded by student fees, have filed a complaint with the university's Judicial Affairs Office, which is investigating the charge.

Nicholas Aguilar, a lawyer who directs that office, declined to discuss the complaint.

Tashiro, an ethnic studies major, said the Momentum staff, which includes whites and blacks, was unanimous in agreeing to publish Ivy Lee's article. …

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