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Calls for student editor to resign after 'F**k Bush' column

  • Story Highlights
  • CSU College Republicans want newspaper editor to resign
  • Editorial said "Taser this: F**k Bush"
  • Editor David McSwain says he was exercising free speech
  • Campus newspaper reportedly lost ads, cut salaries
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By Brett Okamoto
Special to CNN
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CNNU campus correspondent Brett Okamoto is a senior at Colorado State University. CNNU is a feature that provides student perspectives on news and trends from colleges across the United States. The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of CNN, its affiliates or the schools where the campus correspondents are based.

FORT COLLINS, Colorado (CNN) -- The College Republicans, a student organization at Colorado State University, weren't planning anything special for the last week of September.

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Colorado State student Yael Yund, 21, signs a petition calling for David McSwane's resignation.

Then on September 21, David McSwane, the editor-in-chief of The Rocky Mountain Collegian, the daily student newspaper, printed the four-word column that sparked a national free speech debate and sent the College Republicans into action, writing a petition to force him to resign.

"Taser this: F**k Bush" was printed on the opinion page of the newspaper, causing CSU president Larry Penley to issue a formal statement and the Board of Student Communications to plan a meeting for Wednesday night. During the meeting they will decide on the fate of McSwane and his future involvement with the publication.

"We'll present our petition to the board at the meeting," said student Chelsey Penoyer, the chairman of the College Republicans.

"We're petitioning that he should resign on his own. The petition also urges students to think twice before going to businesses who continue advertising with The Collegian."

In a confidential memo mistakenly released to the local newspaper, The Coloradoan, Fort Collins businesses have already pulled out $30,000 in advertising with The Collegian, which relies completely on external revenue to operate, not student fees.

According to the memo, to make up for the loss, student employee wages were cut by 10 percent, the newspaper reported.

McSwane confirmed the memo after its release.

McSwane has defended his actions, referring to the incident involving a college student who was Tasered at a recent John Kerry speech in Florida. He said that his decision was exercising his right to free speech.

He refused to comment for this story.

Students around the CSU campus expressed a majority feeling that while they felt McSwane's right to free speech should be protected, many of them felt as though he misused it.

"At first I totally supported him and the paper," said senior Evan Isoline, who read the initial column when it came out. "I thought he was making a political statement and then throwing away his college career at the paper. I thought he would resign right away.

"Now you look at it and it's like, 'Taser this. Taser what?' The issue isn't even about President Bush. If you're going to stand up for something like that you have to have something to back it up. You have to believe in something."

Some students however have stopped in to the newsroom in support of the paper's actions.

"I completely support him and the paper for their decision," said Alesia Gifford, vice president of the Young Democrats, another political student organization. "In this society we are taking a step backwards, especially with the free speech debate. President Bush has lost our respect as a country. "At some point we have to stand up for our rights. [McSwane] was just showing that speech, even when explicit, should always be protected by the First Amendment."

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Many more students however were shocked at the paper's decision and failed to see the political stance they took. In addition to writing a column they felt lacked substance, students also were concerned of what it would do to the university's image.

"It makes the students at Colorado State look like a bunch of uneducated children who don't have anything intelligent to say," Penoyer said. "So we just yell bad words." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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