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Editor keeps his job after 'F**k Bush' column

  • Story Highlights
  • Editor-in-chief of Colorado State University's newspaper was admonished
  • He published a four-word column saying "Taser this: F**k Bush"
  • The column prompted calls for him to be removed from the post
  • The student newspaper also lost $50,000 in advertising revenue
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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 editor-in-chief of Colorado State University's newspaper will keep his job after he published a four-word column that said, "Taser this: F**k Bush."

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David McSwane speaks to the media after an earlier hearing on his decision to publish the column.

The CSU Board of Student Communications met Thursday for nearly four hours in a closed hearing before deciding to admonish instead of fire Rocky Mountain Collegian editor-in-chief David McSwane.

Speaking for the board that oversees student media, CSU faculty member Jim Landers read a prepared statement and refused to comment further.

"We see the editorial as an opinion which is protected by the First Amendment," Landers read.

However, Landers said the board found that the editor had violated the school's ethical standards.

"We feel that it caused harm to The Collegian and to student media. It is our judgment that his actions were unethical and unprofessional," Landers said.

The September 21 column had prompted the College Republicans to circulate a petition calling for McSwane to resign and advertisers to pull their money out of the publication.

A public hearing by the board made up of six students and three faculty members followed. That event attracted hundreds of students, many of whom had to be turned away from the packed room.

To some who heard Thursday's ruling, it simply wasn't enough.

"He got off easy," said Cole Weinman, a student media employee who has worked for the campus newspaper, radio and television station. "I don't know that the decision correlates with what has happened here."

One member of The Collegian's editorial board said he was glad the issue is behind them.

"I'm just relieved that it's over and I'm glad they made the decision that they did," said Sean Star, an editor for The Collegian.

Star also expressed his admiration for McSwane.

"I think he handled it extremely well considering the amount of coverage that it got," Star said. "People need to realize that he's a 20-year-old student and not a professional yet."

After the hearing was adjourned, McSwane and his lawyer immediately left and canceled a press conference scheduled for later Thursday evening.

He refused to comment for this story.

Board member Elise Stephens, a 22-year-old student, said that McSwane showed little emotion through the entire process.

"He's really hard to read and that about covers it," Stephens said. "He didn't say or do anything really when we read our decision. He thanked us, but I think that's about it."

"I think our meeting went so long tonight because it is a First Amendment situation," she said. "We had to consider every side of it."

McSwane's column resulted in lost revenue for the self-funded newspaper, including 18 advertisers and up to $50,000, director of student media Jeff Browne said at the public meeting on September 26.

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Despite heavy criticism, The Collegian editorial board was pleased with Thursday's decision, Star said.

"I've never been an editor before and, to me, he's the best boss I've ever had," Star said. "I think it helped him a lot that the editorial board was behind him during this whole thing." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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