An e-mail discussion between two Business School administrators about how to silence The Michigan Every Three Weekly, an often-controversial campus humor publication, backfired last month when the messages were leaked to the magazine’s editors.
The Every Three Weekly printed the e-mails in its December issue.
According to one of the messages, sent by a Business School admissions officer to an assistant dean, several black students were offended by a fake front front-page story on Proposal 2 in the magazine’s November issue headlined “White Students with Black-Sounding Names Rejoice at Passage of Proposal 2.”
The students complained to Business School administrators.
In the correspondence, one of the administrators agreed to throw out copies of the Onion-like parody newspaper distributed at the Business School.
An e-mail obtained by the Every Three Weekly suggested, “Why don’t we just agree to toss ’em out when they get here?!”
The e-mails were leaked and forwarded to the editors.
Justin Wynn, editor in chief of the Every Three Weekly, said he knew the identity of the admissions staffer and the person who leaked the e-mails, but he would not disclose them.
“He didn’t seem to agree with what the (administrators) had decided,” Wynn said.
Wynn said because the newspaper is a student publication funded by the University, it can be distributed in any campus building.
Having never experienced a distribution problem before, Wynn said he was unsure how to respond. The Every Three Weekly published the leaked e-mails in its December issue and asked readers to complain to University faculty. At least one student wrote to University President Mary Sue Coleman about the issue.
Wynn said the Every Three Weekly would still be distributed to the Business School, no matter what administrators do.
“If they end up throwing them out, we’ll bring more,” he said.
Business School spokesman Paul Gediman said he doesn’t believe any copies of the paper were actually removed, and said that staff merely discussed the possibility.
Gediman said the administrators mishandled the matter. He said the Business School must monitor the contents of papers distributed in their buildings for “inappropriate or offensive” material, because the Business School attracts both students and business professionals.
One of the anonymous Business School administrators agreed in an e-mail published by the Every Three Weekly.
“I’m thinking the paper may claim free speech, but Larry Flynt and Hustler are protected by free speech and we wouldn’t have to let them give away copies in our lobby,” the administrators wrote.
The November issue of the publication, with its potentially offensive front page, sat next to copies of The Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek. Gediman said this could have undermined what he called the Business School’s professional tone.
Gediman said the Business School will not restrict distribution of the newspaper in the future. He said the administrators had made a mistake in their treatment of the matter and have apologized to the Every Three Weekly.
This was not the first time that a free speech debate arose at the Business School. In October, staff received complaints about advertisements for the strip club D