UC Davis paper condemned

    The student newspaper at UC Davis has drawn fire from students, staff and community members over the publication’s year-end spoof issue.

    One controversial item found in the June 24 issue of the California Aggie was a digitally-altered image of a 20-foot phallic symbol superimposed between a young brother and sister as they played on “”egghead”” statues on the Davis campus. The image struck many readers as oddly inappropriate for a community publication.

    For over a dozen years, the Aggie has run a spoof issue to close out the academic year. According to Davis administrators and residents, Aggie writers and editors went too far with this year’s issue.

    Other controversial items included an altered photo in which a white student suspiciously eyes a former black student body president, holding a knife that the Aggie staff pasted into the image. The issue also contained several off-color remarks about Mary Vasquez, a student who has repeatedly criticized the paper.

    Commenting on this recent conflict between free expression and respect for others, Aggie Editor in Chief Fitz Vo said, “”The difference isn’t between having a right to do something [or not], but whether we should or not.””

    Editors for the Aggie are selected by the UC Davis Media Board, a committee of administrators, faculty members and students that also oversees campus broadcast services. When the spoof issue was published, Vo had only recently taken over the role of editor in chief, and attributes some of the errors to miscommunications and simple oversights.

    Alice Hannam, Media Board chair, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the parody issue violated good taste and expression, which is one of the standards the board drew up for the Aggie.

    Administrators are questioning the current system for the newspaper, as well as debating their response to the situation. Over a month after the incident, UC Davis officials have still not elucidated any new strategies for advising the paper or given any indication of whether Vo will retain his position. The Media Board is compiling a synopsis of the complaints that it has received, and Chad Carlock, the attorney retained by the young siblings’ parents, thinks that a lawsuit may still threaten.

    “”We want quick, decisive action to prevent this from happening again,”” Carlock told the Chronicle. Carlock stated that the family of the pictured children will wait to see what disciplinary action the UC Davis administration issues before exercising any options for a lawsuit.

    The parents of the front-page children contend that once the picture was altered, the permission they granted earlier for the use of the image was revoked. They have requested, and the Aggie has complied, with the destruction of any copy of the photo in film, print and digital media.

    “”Our screw-ups are our own; we accept responsibility, but we could use some good advice,”” Vo said.

    UC Davis administrative officials were unavailable for comment by press time for this article.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $200
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal