Del Mar College’s president Dr. Mark Escamilla says a review is underway over a graphically illustrated article about sex in "The Foghorn" college newspaper.
The review will look at whether proper procedures were followed.
The college does have ethics standards it expects publications to follow, but the school paper is independent, not affiliated with the college. Instead it represents the voice of the students.
A parody of sex during final exams illustrated by cartoons in sexual positions was published in "The Foghorn" student newspaper. Written by Editor-In-Chief Mark Young, it caused a firestorm within college community.
"The nature of the article, was one that garnered the ire of the community in many places. Many faculty members and staff members were quite upset," Dr. Escamilla said.
It has also raised raised questions about freedom of speech.
In their review of the controversial article, the administration is looking to ensure no laws of any kind were broken.
"We’re looking into it. We’re evaluating it, and we’re going to support the constitutional right for free speech," Dr. Escamilla said.
The paper’s adviser, Robert Muilenburg, says no laws have been broken, and any censorship would be violation of free speech.
"There absolutely have not been," he said. "The idea that any of these cartoons fall under the guise of obscene or pornography is a bit ridiculous to me. If I thought that were even a question, I would have had a much more fervent discussion with my editor."
Young also stands by his work, telling us the paper did not break publication guidelines or laws. He says he’s disheartened by the response from a large number of faculty, but humor is subjective.
As for Del Mar procedures, they state the mission of the student press is: "to maintain high ethical standards" and also "provide a forum for free and responsible expression of student, faculty and staff opinion."
The College provides a laboratory, equipment and funding to the production, but student publications are independent.
"We don’t represent the institution itself, we represent the voice of the students," Muilenburg said. "So when it comes to free speech, that is definitely something within the regulations that have already been set amongst the Supreme Court and the laws rules and regulations that come from that.
One big concern being raised is that Del Mar has high school students taking classes on campus, and they are too young to be seeing the sexual cartoons.
Some college students who spoke to KRIS 6 News had very different opinions on that.
"I mean sure The Foghorn is intended for college students right, but first instinct is there’s also collegiate high school here," student Christian Puente said. "Freedom of the press, great. But you got to consider what your audience is. Maybe just put a little more thought into what the repercussions of something like that would be."
Sam Cummins has another stance.
"We have to remember that collegiate students are dual credit students, which means they’re college students," she said. "If they’re going to make the decision to attend a college campus, then they have to face adult topics. We have sex ed, we have free STD testing, and all of those things are openly advertised within "The Foghorn.’"
Dr. Escamilla says the school’s review will take several days to complete.