Georgetown students say campus satire is racist

Georgetown University students are slamming a humor magazine for an online satirical piece they say is racist and not funny.

The story in The Georgetown Heckler describes the official campus paper, The Hoya, holding a fictional cross-burning on campus and refers to “dark, human-shaped pinatas.” A photograph with the story shows what appear to be Ku Klux Klan members in front of a burning cross.

The Heckler was poking fun at troubles The Hoya ran into earlier this year when it published an April Fool’s issue that students criticized as racist and sexist.

Jheanelle Brown, president of the campus NAACP chapter, said a coalition of groups asked for an apology from The Heckler and a retraction after seeing the article.

“I’m extremely, extremely angry and, as a black person, really offended and physically sick,” said the 21-year-old senior from Lithonia, Ga. “I’m just personally tired of being attacked for who I am at a white school.”

The climate for minority students at Georgetown is indicative of bigger problems in the country, Brown said. “We’re not post-racial,” she said.

In April, The Hoya published an April Fool’s Day issue that some students also protested. The edition included a piece calling for more sex between blacks and whites on campus. The Black Student Alliance and other groups held a sit-in at the newspaper office, and student editors issued an apology.

After that incident, Georgetown President John DeGioia formed working groups to tackle diversity issues on campus.

Jack Stuef, editor of the Georgetown Heckler, said the latest article was written to mock The Hoya for its controversial April Fool’s Day edition. He attended a campus forum Tuesday night to answer complaints from students and faculty.

Stuef, a 21-year-old senior from Detroit, said he apologized to the group but had no plans to take the article down.

“They didn’t really understand the point, which was not to be racist but to satirize racism itself,” he said. “We still stand behind our point in the article that we think racism exists on campus.”

The Heckler will likely stop chiding The Hoya, though, “because it kind of felt like we’re beating a dead horse at this point,” he said.

John Lewis, a 20-year-old junior from Boston, said the university should take action because the Web site uses the school’s name.

“Georgetown University itself is not a racist university,” he said. “Racism still exists, though. … If we do not clarify these things, then racist issues will continue to be swept under the rug.”

The Georgetown Heckler is not affiliated with the school nor regulated by its student media board.

Georgetown Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson issued a statement Tuesday night saying the Heckler’s stories are “hurtful and potentially destructive” to the campus community.

“We condemn these attempts at humor, which ridicule people based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion or sexual orientation and which promote violence,” he said. “As a Catholic and Jesuit institution we are called to a higher standard.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.