Flyers spark free speech debate at CC

April 2, 2008

Two Colorado College students are drawing criticism for posting a flyer on campus that mocked a feminist publication and, the college says, made violent references.

Chris Robinson, a senior Political Science major at Colorado College, says he and friend published “The Monthly Bag” as a joke, a parody of a Feminist and Gender Studies student publication “The Monthly Rag”.

“It was a satirical journal of guy stuff,” Robinson said.

However, the college didn’t see it as a joke. The flyers were taken down the morning they were put up, according to Robinson. “I thought that maybe we had struck a deeper nerve than we had originally intended.”

“The Monthly Bag” detailed the range of a sniper rifle and included a list of tips for using a chainsaw. The college says this violates a campus policy on violence.

However, Robinson says he’s been censored. “Some viewpoints on campus are above question and others will not be allowed,” he said. “There’s no threat it’s very obviously a satirical document.”

College officials declined an interview with News First. However, the Colorado College Office of Communications says CC had no choice but to take the flyers down because they were posted just two weeks after the shootings at Northern Illinois University. They say there were obvious security concerns. Furthermore, the college says “The Monthly Bag” violates a campus policy on violence.

Colorado College President Richard Celeste released this statement:

“Colorado College values and fosters freedom of expression, and in discussions with students regarding ‘The Monthly Bag’, has encouraged further dialogue about freedom of speech issues on campus. The students involved in creating this publication were found to have violated the college community’s standards, but they were not sanctioned or punished. Instead, they were urged to engage the college community in more inclusive dialogue, debate and discussion on freedom of speech, and through a letter to the editor of the student newspaper and other actions, they are doing so.”

Robinson and his co-publisher, who has not been named, sought the help of an educational rights groupThe Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE is putting pressure on the college to change.

“Not only has Colorado College wrongly punished students for expression that any reasonable person would easily recognize as parody that threatens no one, but according to [the Dean of Students'] standard, countless movies, songs, and other artistic endeavors that ‘juxtapose weaponry and sexuality ‘ are inappropriate for the adult students of Colorado College,” said Adam Kissel, Director of FIRE.

Chris Robinson says he’s waiting for the CC to admit fault. “This is clearly a discriminatory enforcement.”

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Schools: Colorado College Cases: Colorado College: Students Found Guilty for Satirical Flyer