Staff from the Minnesota Republic were hit with a bit of a surprise when they made their annual presentation to apply for money collected by the University of Minnesota's Student Services Fee.
Members of the student-run committee in charge of making initial funding recommendations objected to the back cover of an issue the conservative student newspaper published in 2011. It contained two photos showing a person dressed as a terrorist burning the paper, and in between the photos it read: "The Minnesota Republic: Terrorists Hate It," with Arabic writing underneath. See also: Conservative U of M Morris Paper Cries Foul After Professor Asks People to Throw It Away
"They basically just held up the issue and said, 'What is this?' You could tell they weren't pleased by it," says Minnesota Republic editor Allison Maass. "They kept asking questions about it, asking if we would print something like that, and we were trying to skirt around the issue a little bit because it almost scared us, like if we said we would run this they would cut our funding."
The Republic ended up getting recommended for most of the funding it asked for -- $104,410 out of the $140,445 requested -- but the recommendation came with a warning stating any material the newspaper produces should not "compromise the cultural harmony of the campus."
The 12-person student committee, which reviews every application for funding from the university's student services fee, unanimously agreed the photos "demonstrated an overt lack of sensitivity to the portrayal of members of the Arab world."
University of Minnesota spokesperson Matt Sumera says the warning was a mistake and it would've never made it through the complete funding approval process.
"It's a non-issue. Their funding was never in jeopardy," Sumera says. "[Committee members] are students, they made a mistake, and we're working with them."
After the committee makes initial recommendations, they have to go through a staff adviser, vice provost, and an appeals process, if necessary. Then final approval rests with the university president and Board of Regents.
"We want the process to be student-led and student-driven, because it's student services fees, but at the same time there are any number of regulations we have to follow, and sometimes, being students, they tend to make mistakes and we work with them to correct it," Sumera adds.
Click to page two to see a copy of the letter that was sent to the Minnesota Republic.
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