‘Daily Show’ deems UNH incident funny

By November 5, 2004

DURHAM—University of New Hampshire officials didn’t think Timothy Garneau’s posters making fun of coeds’ battling the “freshman 15” were all that funny but producers at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” apparently disagree.

The Comedy Central cable television program known for its political satire and ironic humor is interested in covering Garneau’s case. A researcher from The Daily Show made attempts to reach the UNH sophomore and his family yesterday.

Garneau, 20, of Berlin is a political science major who was evicted from Stoke Hall on Oct. 24 for posting fliers in his dorm that read, “9 out of 10 freshman girls gain 10 – 15 pounds. But there is something you can do about it. If u live below the 6th floor takes the stairs Not only will u feel better about yourself but you will also be saving us time and won’t be sore on the eyes.”(sic)

Garneau has said he made the fliers as a joking way to draw attention to students using the elevator to travel one or two floors. He said other students who lived on the upper floors of Stoke were waiting up to 10 minutes for the elevator.

The Daily Show often includes human-interest features that present subjects in a humorous light and include sarcastic and sometimes ridiculous questions from interviewers.

Garneau said yesterday he is a fan of The Daily Show and has yet to talk with program representatives. Also, has not decided whether he wants his case featured on the program.

“I love the Jon Stewart show but I’m not sure if I want to do it because it would just take a lot of time out of my day and my week and right now I am very busy with work and school,” Garneau said. “I might do it to have the matter gain national attention so other people know about protecting free speech and what happens on college campuses.”

Garneau said he wanted to talk with his parents before talking with The Daily Show. He said he was not concerned that the program would make him look foolish.

“It’s all in good humor, just like my poster,” he said. “It’s not to make fun of anybody or be their enemy. It’s just for good humor, it’s not for anything else.”

Greg Lukianoff, director of legal and public advocacy for FIRE—the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education—is handling Garneau’s case and said he was contacted by a representative of The Daily Show yesterday. Lukianoff said he and FIRE will leave the decision on whether to appear on Stewart’s program to Garneau.

“I’m a big fan of The Daily Show,” Lukianoff said, he added, “Considering the fact that UNH acted so foolishly in this case, it would be hard to do a take on his story that wasn’t sympathetic to (Garneau) but that’s ultimately up to the producers of the show.”

After reviewing Garneau’s case, UNH’s Judicial & Mediation Programs Office initially found Garneau responsible for harassment, disorderly conduct, violating affirmative action policies and lying and banned him from his dorm. UNH officials reversed their position and told Garneau this week that they found him responsible only for lying and that he will be allowed to move into a new dorm.

UNH officials, citing federal privacy laws, have not commented on Garneau’s case.

Garneau is still living out of his Ford Contour sedan but said yesterday he expects to be in a dorm by the weekend.

Lukianoff also said Garneau will consider if having his story on The Daily Show is appropriate.

“Since this case is so serious and is about freedom of expression, (Garneau) may be uncomfortable with making light of it,” Lukianoff said.

A representative of Comedy Central would not comment for this story.

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Schools: University of New Mexico