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ASU student government takes issue with ASUA resolution

By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 14, 1998
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ASU student government officials questioned the need for an ASUA resolution that denounces a controversial Arizona Daily Wildcat comic strip.

Paul Frost, president of the Associated Students of Arizona State University, said he didn't think he would back a resolution against ASU's newspaper if the same situation occurred.

"I don't think that we at ASASU have an adversarial relationship with the State Press (ASU's student newspaper)," he said. "We try to work together in the benefit of the students."

Frost said that at first glance, the comic appeared homophobic, but after consideration, he could see an alternative interpretation. Wildcat Editor in Chief Zach Thomas has said the cartoon is a commentary on the inability of males to be emotional in public without society thinking the two are gay.

Robert Stryk, ASASU's chief of staff, said his office is "concerned" about ASUA's denouncement.

"We do not condone the ASUA resolution to condemn the Arizona Daily Wildcat," he said Friday.

The Associated Students of the University of Arizona passed legislation Sept. 2, denouncing theWildcat for the Aug. 31 "Looking for Billy" comic which featured two insects hugging and subsequently being shot by a third insect screaming "homos."

The State Press published an editorial Thursday that defended the Wildcat, using the headline "Wildcat runs questionable cartoon; still has right."

"No matter what the interpretation or intent of the cartoonist, the paper had the right to run the strip," the editorial states.

ASUA officials have maintained that their purpose was not to censor the Wildcat, but to state with the resolution that the newspaper "demonstrated insensitivity to gay people."

ASUA President Tara Taylor, who signed the resolution last week, said yesterday the comic was "distasteful" and she stands by passing the document.

But Taylor said she can see both sides of the argument.

"The problem was that I didn't see that (second interpretation) until someone pointed it out to me," she said. "It showed me that maybe it (the comic) wasn't in the best taste."

Taylor said ASASU officials also have the right to their viewpoints.

"We wrote the resolution to represent some students' opinions," she said.

ASUA Sen. Ben Graff said yesterday that the Senate was not trying to condemn the Wildcat, and that the senators stand by the decision to pass the resolution.

"ASU can say what they want, but it's something that happened on our campus and we dealt with it," he said.

Graff said he can see both interpretations of the comic, but ASUA had to respond to the students who were offended.

"You can see both sides, but the problem is that it can be taken in a negative way," he said.

Both Taylor and Graff praised the positive dialogue that stemmed from the publication of the cartoon, a sentiment shared by the State Press' editorial.

"It is our hope that this Wildcat firestorm leads to dialogue about broader issues of freedom of speech and bigotry and results in lessons learned about wisdom and discretion," the editorial states.

David J. Cieslak can be reached via e-mail at David.J.Cieslak@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Financial Times Fall 98