Students Await Tufts’ Ruling on Satirical Articles

May 1, 2007

As we reported yesterday, the Tufts University independent conservative student journal The Primary Source (TPS) attended a hearing last night where the university addressed charges of harassment, creating a hostile environment, and breach of community standards brought against the publication. The hearing was conducted by the Committee on Student Life (CSL)—a panel comprised of faculty and students—and dealt with two complaints lodged by students offended by TPS’ Christmas carol satire last December and the more recent article “Islam—Translation: Submission,” a parody of Tufts’ “Islamic Awareness Week.”

Last night’s hearing began around 6:30 p.m. and lasted until after midnight. The hearing was open to the public and was held in Sophia Gordon Hall, an auditorium with ample space for all of the spectators who attended. Outside the hearing, various students angry with TPS for various reasons protested against the conservative journal. While TPS called only its old editor-in-chief as a witness to testify about the paper’s satirical articles, the students who filed complaints against the paper called eight witnesses to testify about how they were offended by the Christmas carol and the article on Islam. TPS staffer Doug Kingman reports that one of his accusers’ witnesses testified about how the Christmas carol sparked conversations about affirmative action on campus, which made her uncomfortable. Kingman also reports that Professor Barbara Grossman, the chair of the CSL panel, interjected during the hearing to explain the difference between the highbrow satire of John Milton and the “racist” satire of TPS. Tufts’ university counsel and Dean of Students Bruce Reitman, who is a non-voting member of the CSL panel, also attended the hearing.

No decision was handed down last night, as the CSL said it would deliver a decision on the charges against TPS within a few days.

Schools:  Tufts University

Cases:  Tufts University: Conservative Student Journal Found Guilty of Harassment