Reed students, president apologize for satirical article about killing Jews at Lewis & Clark
Student editors of a Reed College humor publication are taking heat for a fake news story saying Lewis & Clark students rounded up and gassed all the Jews on their campus.
The article, meant as a satire, is the latest in an string of incidents on Oregon college campuses involving potentially offensive symbols, displays and words that have sparked debates about what’s acceptable.
More than 200 students, staff and faculty from Reed and Lewis & Clark attended a forum on the Reed campus Tuesday night to talk about the article and the reaction at both colleges.
The Pamphlette, a student-run satirical newspaper, ran the article, titled “LC students kill Jewish people,” last week.
The parody begins: “In what is being called a ‘tragic, but all too predictable’ event, the staff of The Leaphlette, a student humor publication at Lewis & Clark College, have been accused of rounding up and gassing all of the Jews on their Portland, OR campus.”
The article describes students asking the chemistry department for a chemical to conduct “Jewsperiments” and “a towering crematorium” where the library once stood.
Adriel Hsu-Flanders, a Reed sophomore, said he was hurt and angry when he read the article.
“I don’t think the Holocaust is something that should be joked about, period,” he said.
Reed President Colin Diver apologized to Lewis & Clark’s interim president, Jane Atkinson, last week.
Diver also rebuked the paper in an e-mail to campus for displaying “a remarkable insensitivity to the deeply held feelings engendered by some of the most horrific and painful episodes of our collective history.”
The same edition features an article titled, “Getting ready for Black History Month,” a satirical to-do list of preparations including “Photoshop myself into other people’s Kwanzaa pictures and put them up around my house.”
But Diver said college leaders will not censor the paper because it is against the college’s principles to do so.
Anti-Semitism is a sensitive issue at Lewis & Clark, where swastika graffiti was found in the library bathroom a few weeks ago.
Jodi Heintz, a Lewis & Clark spokeswoman, said the Reed article is “really disturbing. And given what we’re trying to do as a community on our own campus around this issue, that definitely was not helpful to us.”
But she said the incident involved a handful of Reed students and does not reflect Reed as a whole.
A student editor and writer for Reed’s Pamphlette said editors didn’t know about the swastika incident at Lewis & Clark when the story ran.
Glenn Harrison said in an e-mail to The Oregonian that the satirical article was in response to a commentary published in Reed’s regular student paper. A previous Pamphlette spoof of historical events said the Holocaust never happened, which triggered a criticism in the regular student paper that satirizing the Holocaust “enables real genocide,” according to Harrison.
“We found this claim ridiculous, and the real goal of our article was to satirize this notion by driving it to its logical extreme,” said Harrison, a 21-year-old senior and sociology major.
Harrison said the paper’s staff has repeatedly apologized for hurting or offending people on campus.
“We were negligent as editors and members of the community,” Harrison wrote. “We are now more aware of the effect of our writing, and we will be exercising more cautious editorial judgment going forward.”