SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – After the student body president at Texas State University called for the author of an editorial condemned by campus leaders as “racist” to step down from the student newspaper, the editor of the paper says the student has been fired.
“These individuals knowingly allowed divisive, racist material to stain the reputation of this great University,” Student Body President Connor Clegg said, who is also calling for the opinions editor and editor-in-chief of the University Star to remove themselves.
If the individuals choose not to resign, Clegg says he will call an emergency meeting and defund the school’s newspaper. “If the Star wishes to maintain its operations without student funding, they can do so like any other paper – by earning subscribers and selling more advertisements. There is no reason for over 39,000 students to be forced to invest their student fees towards this brand of journalism,” Clegg said.
University President Denise M. Trauth described the piece as a “racist opinion column” on Wednesday. The article, titled “Your DNA is an abomination,” sparked controversy throughout campus.
“To wish for the elimination of an entire race is an ignorant, dated, and close-minded opinion, one that does not belong on our campus,” Clegg said. “These individuals knowingly allowed divisive, racist material to stain the reputation of this great University.”
Clegg says he has a meeting with the editorial board on Friday and will announce the decision on Monday. “Hopefully it doesn’t come to anything drastic,” said Clegg.
Thursday evening The University Star released a letter from the editorial board. “We screwed up,” the letter said. “The author of the column has jeopardized the atmosphere of inclusivity at the university and will no longer be published in The University Star.”
The article has caught the attention of state leaders who have previously attempted to pass legislation regarding free speech on university campuses. Texas State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Deer Park, authored HB 2527 earlier this year. The bill did not pass, however, it would have opened entire campuses as “free speech zones,” rather than certain and limited areas. Although the bill failed, Cain asked Lt. Gov Dan Patrick to add the issue to the lawmakers’ interim charges.
“We would see a more vibrant free speech, free exchange of marketplace ideas at our state colleges in Texas,” said Cain.
Cain believes the controversy could have been prevented had students felt freer to express themselves openly knowing there were no repercussions. Cain says the columnist has a right to his opinion but doesn’t believe taxpayers should be paying for it.
“I’m concerned that tax dollars are being used for this as opposed to the student printing this material with his own money or private funding and distributing it in the common area – something that the bill would have protected and allowed,” said Cain. “The concern is that these state schools are not allowing for a free exchange of all ideas. It’s just one-sided. The college would be wise to allow a rebuttal to be printed.”
To do that, Clegg stands by his statement that there has to be new leadership. “My hope is that they can improve their standards and maybe get some new people in there with fresh perspectives,” he said.