By Teresa Jun - email
University of Arizona students and campus community members are outraged over a syndicated political cartoon that was published in Wednesday's issue of the Daily Wildcat student newspaper. The cartoon contains a derogatory racial slur against African-Americans.
"It fueled the fire that we've been trying to put out for so many years," said Hillary Dawsey, a UA student. "I feel very offended that that's what represents the University of Arizona."
About 100 students and community members filled a room on the UA campus Thursday evening to address concerns about the cartoon, and to demand answers and an apology from the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Lauren LePage.
"There was a miscommunication on our staff about which comic would be in the paper," LePage told the gathering. "The comic that ran was not intended to run, I never approved it, and I had not selected it."
In Thursday's edition of the Daily Wildcat, LePage issued a letter accepting "full responsibility for this error."
The cartoon consists of nine panels in which a voter tells a campaign canvasser on her doorstep that she intends to vote for Barack Obama, referring to him by the "n" word.
The cartoonist himself, Keith Knight, is an African-American political cartoonist based out of Los Angeles. He offered a written statement in the Daily Wildcat, defending his comic: "The strip is based on some true incidents that happened to canvassers in some battleground states. Is it offensive? Yes. Is it sad? Sure. But that's the reality of the United States and this very unique election."
But many of the people gathered on campus call the cartoon more "controversy" than "commentary."
"A cartoon that is so racist, offensive, and hurtful has no place on campus," said Tommy Bruce, ASUA student body president.
"I've had personal experience in my life with that word, and it shouldn't be used," said Lonnie Wall, a UA student.
LePage assured that the newspaper staff would use more caution in the future to prevent unintended printing of material deemed offensive. "I have already sent out a notice to staff, saying if anyone sees a derogatory term, it needs to be brought to my attention," said LePage.