On May 24, 2007, the BIP held a hearing in the McClelland room of Seymour Union for the editors of TKS, in response to a headline in Flunk Day Issue 2007. Complaints were heard against the paper for the use of the phrase Jesus Fucking Christ, and the board discussed what corrective action might be taken. The meeting lasted for two hours, allowing both the plaintiffs and the editors a chance to speak their side.
The following procedures were given to the TKS editors when they arrived at the meeting.
Procedure for the Hearing May 24th BIP/TKS
At the Hearing
The chairperson in charge of the case presides at the hearing. It is his or her responsibility to see that proper procedures are followed.
The chairperson shall introduce each person in the room with their title or the members may introduce themselves.
The respondents, complainant, nature of the complaint or charge, and date, issue or volume shall be stated at the beginning of the hearing. (The "respondents" may be one or more persons. The "complainant" may also be one or more persons.)
The first witness is the complainant, who will explain the reasons for bringing the case, the nature of the evidence, and any other information deemed relevant. The complainant may wish to rest on his or her written formal complaint. Other witnesses, if any, in support of the complaint or charge will be heard at this time.
The chairperson will ask the respondents if they have any questions to ask of the complainants. Following, the complainants may ask questions to the respondents and other witnesses. the chairperson presiding at the hearing will determine whether any other witnesses will be allowed to ask questions during the hearing.
When the chairperson determines that both complainants and respondents have had ample opportunity to ask questions of each other, the complainants may choose to leave or may choose to remain for the rest of the testimony.
The Board of Publications voting members will now have a chance to ask questions of the TKS editorial board with the intent of determining which members of the editorial staff were most and least involved in the production of the Flunk Day issue. The Board of Publications will break for deliberations and dismiss those staff members the board determines had little to no involvement in the issue in question. All persons except BIP members will be asked to leave when the Board makes it deliberations.
The Board will then resume deliberations with those staff members most pertinent to the case at hand. The Board of Publications voting members will now have a chance to question the TKS editorial board with the intent of addressing the specific charge of "irresponsible journalism."
After deliberation, the Board will excuse all parties except for voting members. The Board will determine the merit of the complaint or charge and penalty, if any, by acquiring three out of four votes. If such a vote is not obtained, the case is recorded as "no decision" and no penalty is given. Such a case may be reopened, but only if new evidence is immediately pending. In its decision, the Board strives to preserve balance among the principles of consistency with precedent, justice to individuals, and the maintenance of an academic community.
Led by Graham Troyer-Joy and Olivia Cacchione, students sympathetic to TKS gathered to protest the hearings. Around two dozen people showed up to make signs and stand outside the hallway to the McClelland room in Seymour.
Signs read "First *Explitive* Amendment," "Everyone Makes Mistakes" and "Knox Students for The Knox Student" -- a phrase invented by sophomore Emma Martin. Olivia Cacchione's sign read "Censorship does not promote responsible journalism." Graham's contribution stated simply "Please don't fire my roommate." Tom Fucoloro, his roommate, is the editor-in-chief of TKS and authored the headline.
Only some of the students stayed through the entire trial, but many additional people stood outside in support of the paper after the attendees had entered.
May 25, 2007
To: TKS Editorial Staff of The Knox Student
CC: Larry Breitborde, Dean of the College and complainant
- Sue Hulett, Faculty member and complainant
- Xavier Romano, Student Life Committee
- David Amor and Marilyn Webb, co-advisors The Knox Student
The Board for Broadcast, Internet and Publications finds after deliberating and evaluating complaints filed with this body that your Flunk Day 2007 headline was irresponsible and insensitive to the community. We hereby issue you a warning and note that any similar conduct will be responded to with severe consequences.
The Board also finds that TKS has responded to its offensive misjudgment in a professional and sincere manner. We are impressed with TKS plans to prevent this kind of misstep from reoccurring and to ensure that future generations of TKS board members are educated on past errors and resulting harm. TKS has a difficult road ahead in trying to make amends with the readers it has alienated through this crass and cavalier use of an expletive in conjunction with the name of a revered religious figure. The Board is confident that TKS understands the gravity of this mistake and the seriousness of the matter even though no harm was intended. The Board also wants to thank the complainants and other members of the Knox community for the many hours of research, preparation and counseling provided by the complainants and media advisers. The Board requires that the TKS editorial staff meet with our Board at least twice during the Winter and Spring terms of 2008. We seek to ensure that the members of your staff are being educated on the sensitivity that producing TKS requires, and to further ensure that any similar misjudgment is avoided.
Prof. Robin Ragan, Faculty member of BIP and Convener
Lori Haslem, Faculty member BIP
Brian King, student member
A.J. Ross, student member