Student paper's funds frozen over 'offensive' April Fool's issue

The United Students Government at The State University of New York (SUNY) College at Buffalo backed off their decision to freeze funding for the student newspaper after an April Fools’ Day edition made some students and faculty uncomfortable.

The Buffalo State student council, United Students Government (USG), had chosen to freeze The Record’s budget and remove all 2,000 copies from campus on April 2, because the April Fools’ Day edition was considered “offensive” to some students and faculty.

“It has come to our attention from many students and faculty members that some of the topics discussed in the ‘Wreckard’ satire addition were offensive to members of Buffalo State and the surrounding community,” USG Executive Vice President Emily Leminger reportedly wrote in an email.

Leminger and the USG demanded The Record staff remove the issue from stands by 5 P.M. and relocated to the publication’s office.

No single article was pointed out as offensive or damaging to The Record, and Leminger did not reply to Campus Reform’s request for a listing of articles deemed offensive. Articles in the April Fool’s edition of The Wreckard included: a drone strike against rival college University of Buffalo; New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) banning snacking across the State of New York; and USG pulling out all the stops to get Nicki Minaj to headline Springfest, the school’s annual music concert.

Dave DeLuca, managing editor of The Record, expressed his shock at charge of the paper being “offensive." He also spoke on the importance of free speech, telling WRGZ that “it wasn’t oppressive, it wasn’t bigoted, and, I mean, if you have to please everybody with what you write, don’t write anything.”

“The April Fools edition of The Record clearly was satire from the obviously altered name and typeface to the topics, which no one should believe to be true. The edition was witty, smart and sharply written and was meant for nothing more but the entertainment of the student body,” said Annemarie Franczyk, a Buffalo State journalism professor and The Record’s faculty adviser.

“While the The Record’s April Fools’ satire edition may have been upsetting to some and certainly pressed the boundaries of humor, I am concerned that the United Students Government’s decision to freeze the paper’s funding may infringe on students’ right to free speech,” said College Vice President for Student Affairs Hal Payne in a statement.

By Thursday evening, April 2, a social media backlash caused the USG to rescind their decision.

“Hello Community & The Record, after much consideration; we have reconsidered our actions about freezing your newspaper budget,” said the USG Facebook page. “Our initial actions were made based on the concerns we received from several students. As United Students Government, students come first. The removal of the ‘April Fools’ edition of the paper was called in order to protect our students from feeling uncomfortable.”

The Record reported that the decision to freeze its budget followed a USG campaign encouraging students to vote for the continuation of the school’s $75 mandatory student activity fee. Without the fee, services like The Record would no longer receive funding.

The USG budget for The Record is roughly $40,000 a year, according to WKBW news.

Campus Reform reached out to Lemiere and the USG for comment, but did not receive a response before publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @CRDees