University Student Government Can’t Take A Joke; Pulls Paper’s Funding After ‘Offensive’ April Fool’s Issue

April 1st is generally acknowledged to be the shittiest day on the internet. Suddenly, everyone who isn’t The Onion thinks they are, and trusted sources of information become sketchy entities in need of copious amounts of side eye.

That’s the worst of it. Then there are others that celebrate the most worthless of quasi-holidays by going completely overboard. The Record, Buffalo State College’s newspaper, turned itself into the The Wreckard on April 1st, publishing several satirical stories.

And, in doing so, found out its student government not only couldn’t take a joke (like “President Conway-Turner authorizes drone strike on top UB leaders, killing 12”), but was also capable of being offended on behalf of everyone in the community.

Some on campus weren’t wild about The Wreckard, including student government president Emily Leminger. She emailed the newspaper staff and told them their April 1 edition was “a very serious matter.”

She wrote:

It has come to our attention from many students and faculty members that some of the topics discussed in the ‘Wreckard’ satire addition [sic] were offensive to members of Buffalo State and the surrounding community.”

Please note that your budget has been frozen, all publications of ‘The Wreckard’ must be removed from campus tomorrow by 5PM and relocated to your office.

The offended students and community members failed to materialize in defense of Lemminger’s decision. But Record adviser and journalism professor Annemarie Franczyk showed up to criticize the student government’s demands.

“The April Fools edition of The Record clearly was satire from the obviously altered name and typeface to the topics,” Franczyk said, “which no one should believe to be true. The edition was witty, smart and sharply written and was meant for nothing more but the entertainment of the student body.”

Realizing the decision to play the Unspoken (and Unbidden) Feelings of the Unspecified Masses was gaining it zero traction anywhere but in the student government’s collective imagination, it swiftly reversed its decision. This announcement followed shortly after its budget-yanking statement. Fortunately, the student government only controls the purse strings, rather than writes the articles.

Hello Community & The Record, After much consideration; we have reconsidered our actions about freezing your newspaper budget. Our initial actions were made based on the concerns we received from several students. As United Students Government, students come first. The removal of the “April Fools” edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable. However, The Record you’re our students as well! & the freedom of speech and press proves that us limiting your distribution, is not right. After considering both sides of concerns, we will continue on reaching out to The Record for a meeting where a medium can be reached. We appreciate all of the efforts from alumni, media, and students pertaining the issue. Communication is the most important tool of all, and we would like for The Record to be a wonderful platform for communication to our community, as well as making sure students feel comfortable and protected by USG. Once again, we look forward to talking to The Record at their earliest convenience. Thank you to all. -USG Team

As an ode to free speech, it’s anything but. It possibly works better as a paean to the flaws in our higher education system — from its inexplicable desire to protect young adults from any sort of unpleasantness to the unavoidable feeling it’s cranking out a generation of graduates who can’t communicate fluently in their native language, much less be convinced that punctuation isn’t the “salt” of written communication: something to be scattered liberally and randomly across bland and badly-composed prose in hopes of “taking it to the next level.”

Lessons were learned… and quickly. But will they stick? The announcement suggests the student government prizes “comfort” and “protection” over free speech. This isn’t exactly comforting, considering it holds the financial means to sacrifice the latter for the former.

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