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ISSUE 116 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/6/2002

Roast seeks reinstatement

By Erinn Groeltz
Contributing Writer

Friday, December 6, 2002

During their Feb. 13 meeting, the Student Se-nate held a special-order discussion on returning recognition and funding to The Roast, a satirical newspaper produced by St. Olaf students.

After criticism of the Nov. 2002 issue of The Roast, the Student Organ-izations Committee (SOC) stripped the organization of recognition and all funding. The editors are now appealing the decision to Senate, asking to be recognized and reinstated with full funding.

This is not the first time The Roast has been brought to Senate.

In the past The Roast, one of the more controversial organizations on campus, has received warnings to tone down what they are writing.

A main topic of concern involved the role of The Roast in the St. Olaf RICH Statement: respect, integrity, celebration, and honesty. Some concerns were raised that the publication violated the character of this statement.

"What we needed to decide," said Christie Lar-son ’04, Student Government Association (SGA) vice-president, "was whether or not The Roast coincided with the mission of SGA and the mission of the college."

The Roast offended certain members of the community, causing the adminstration to look into possibly punishing The Roast editors.

SGA feels that the publication violated certain aspects of the RICH State-ment.

“The first letter of the RICH statement is written as "Respect for the dignity of others despite differences in our beliefs," Larson said.

The Roast editors de-fended their publication and the material represented in it.

In a written statement put before Senate, members of The Roast editorial board said the newspaper “adds campus diversity and color.”

The editors also collected 266 signatures from students petitioning for the continued publication of The Roast.

A formal apology was also given to Senate and the student body, stating “our intentions were good” and “we never meant for it to go this far.” The Roast editors don’t want to give the school the impression that it is out to offend.

"The Roast respects our audience. It is written for students by students," said Ben Toht ‘03, co-editor of the Roast. "Contributors feel free to say anything, which makes it a valid medium for ideas that are not otherwise heard."

The newspaper’s purpose is to make fun of the campus and St. Olaf community.

The satire of The Roast has been a tradition of the school’s, passed on through the years.

It is the editors that decide what type of satire to use.

“It is enjoyable to have a sense of humor about issues on campus," Toht said.

"Each year, the writers and editors have different styles of humor," said Toht.

The controversy from the November issue is acknowledged by the editors, but they insist it was not meant to harm the school’s reputation.

"This past issue made some readers more uncomfortable," Toht said.

“When parodying the environment, it is sometimes necessary to use lewd and indecent writing to get the message through and tell it as it is. Our intentions for the past issue of The Roast were good, but we can see where we went wrong. To some extent, we were naïve because we didn’t take into account the faculty readership."

The issue of The Roast’s place on campus is a hot issue among students and other First Amendment advocates.

Student dialogue with Senate members is ongoing.

"Though this is looked at as a somewhat negative issue that comes before the Senate each year," said Elizabeth Henke ’05, Larson Hall Senator, "It obviously stirs something in students’ hearts. They are usually very apathetic; it’s good to hear their voice and have them speak through the Senate."

No decisions were reached at the Feb. 13 meeting and the issue was tabled for further discussion at the next Senate meeting at 6:30 Feb. 20 in the Sun Room.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend.

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