The petty tyrants who run the student government at the State University of New York College at Buffalo tried to freeze the student newspaper’s budget over a satirical April Fool’s Day edition.
This censorship effort failed quickly, utterly and hilariously.
The action began on Wednesday — April Fool’s Day — when student government officeholders at taxpayer-funded SUNY Buffalo State whimsically froze the budget of The Buffalo State Record, the campus newspaper.
In the classic, almost trite, tradition at American college campuses, the newspaper had published an April 1 edition. It was called “The Wreckard.”
The Buffalo State student council attempted to freeze the campus rag’s budget because the April Fool’s Day newspaper contents were “offensive” to some people.
“It has come to our attention from many students and faculty members that some of the topics discussed in the ‘Wreckard’ satire edition were offensive to members of Buffalo State and the surrounding community,” Buffalo State student council member Emily Leminger informed The Record’s editors, according to an article in the student paper.
Leminger described the satirical newspaper as “a very serious matter.”
The student council ordered the editors of The Record to remove all copies of the April 1 edition from campus by 5 p.m. Thursday.
Dave DeLuca, managing editor of The Record, told The Buffalo News that he and his staff ignored the order. In fact, he said, they contemplated printing additional copies instead.
By Thursday, school administrators had intervened and convinced the student council to back off.
“I got a call in class letting me know the budget was back in force and was unfrozen,” DeLuca, told the News.
Leminger failed to identify any actual human being who was offended or which stories she deemed offensive. The stories in “The Wreckard” that unidentified people could have found offensive included a story about a drone strike against a rival college and a story about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banning snacking.
The Record gets about $40,000 each year from the student government’s activity-fee-generated funding. Without that subsidy, local ABC affiliate WKBW notes, the newspaper would likely cease to exist.
As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has noted, the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly held that student groups must be funded in viewpoint-neutral way when activity fees are involved.
The state of New York’s Constitution flatly prohibits any law “to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press.”
Leminger is junior at taxpayer-funded Buffalo State.
At LinkedIn, prospective employers will find that, in addition to attempting to use petty student council powers at a state-funded university to shut down a newspaper without due process, she also claims proficiency “in Microsoft Applications, scheduling and running meetings, organizations skills and working with others.”
She aspires to joining “a nonprofit board” one day.
Leminger joins the pantheon of people who failed to punish student newspapers for exercising freedom of the press. The growing list of failures includes legendary University of Alaska Fairbanks sociology professor Sine Anahita, who demanded an independent investigation because The Sun Star, the campus rag, ran an April 1, 2013 April Fool’s Day piece heralding the construction of the “Kameel Toi Henderson Building” — “a new building in the shape of a vagina.” (RELATED: Nutty Professor Finally Loses ‘Rape Culture’ Claim About Vagina-Shaped Building Satire)