PORTLAND, Ore.— A student editor at a college campus-run humor publication in Portland says he and others plan to be more cautious when making decisions about the newspaper’s content after running a phony article that said students at another college killed all the Jews at their school.
Glenn Harrison, a student at Reed College and an editor and writer for The Pamphlette, said in an e-mail to The Oregonian that the student-run newspaper’s staff has repeatedly apologized for hurting or offending people on campus with the article, which was meant as satire.
“We were negligent as editors and members of the community,” he wrote. “We are now more aware of the effect of our writing and we will be exercising more cautious editorial judgment going forward.”
The article appeared last week and it took aim at students at Lewis & Clark College, another private liberal-arts school in Portland. Anti-Semitism is a sensitive issue at Lewis & Clark, where swastika graffiti was found in the library bathroom a few weeks ago.
The article carried the headline “LC students kill Jewish people.”
It begins: “In what is being called a ‘tragic, but all too predictable’ event, the staff of The Leaphlette, a student humor publication at Lewis & Clark College, have been accused of rounding up and gassing all of the Jews on their Portland, OR, campus.”
The phony article goes on to describe students asking the chemistry department for a chemical to conduct “Jewsperiments” and a “towering crematorium” where the library once stood.
The same edition of The Pamphlette had another article titled, “Getting ready for Black History Month.” The satirical list of preparations included: “Photoshop myself into other people’s Kwanzaa pictures and put them up around my house.”
Reed President Colin Diver apologized to Lewis & Clark’s interim president, Dr. Jane Atkinson, last week. He also criticized The Pamphlette in an e-mail to campus for displaying a “remarkable insensitivity to the deeply held feelings engendered by some of the most horrific and painful episodes of our collective history.”
College leaders have no plans to censor the paper because it is against Reed’s principles to do so, Diver said.
Lewis & Clark spokeswoman Jodi Heintz said the article was “really disturbing.”
“And given what we’re trying to do as a community on our own campus around this issue, that definitely was not helpful to us,” she said.
However, Heintz said the incident involved only a few Reed students and does not reflect the college as a whole.
Harrison said Pamphlette editors didn’t know about the swastika incident at Lewis & Clark when the story ran.
He said the article was a response to a commentary published in Reed’s regular student newspaper. A previous Pamphlette article had spoofed Anne Frank’s diary, which resulted in the other paper’s criticism that satirizing the Holocaust “enables real genocide,” said Harrison, a 21-year-old senior sociology major.
“We found this claim ridiculous and the real goal of our article was to satirize this notion by driving it to its logical extreme,” he said.