TV show

by Nancy Ngo

Students from as far away as Mankato State University stopped by the Twin Cities campus Thursday to voice their discontent over a nationally televised show that included footage of the University’s queer studies program.
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Programs Office offered a screening and discussion of a recent “60 Minutes” broadcast, which they said veered away from the promised focus of the segment. The CBS news program, aired in March, was intended to detail emerging queer studies programs nationwide.
University event coordinators said the show caused a stir, as evident in e-mail discussions. Thursday marked the first formal public dialogue stating reactions to the show.
“I thought they really thought we were going to be happy with this,” said Beth Zemsky, director of the programs office. “I think they really thought that this was balanced.”
The three-member CBS crew spent a day on campus in January interviewing 11 University instructors, students and staff members on the legitimacy of queer studies as an academic discipline. The news team also attended classes that incorporated queer studies in their curriculum.
When crew members left, Zemsky said it seemed they were careful in making sure their information was in the right context. However, University students and faculty members said they are not happy with the final product’s editorial slant and social constructions.
After viewing the video, Mankato State graduate student Jill Berkey concluded the same thing. “It seems like sensationalism,” she said. “They had plenty of material to choose from but they chose far out sound bites.”
No one from “60 Minutes” was available for comment.
A shot that caught the attention of Megan Thomas, administrative coordinator of the Queer Student Cultural Center, showed a student playing with his tongue ring. She questions why the particular shot was chosen while classroom scenes, such as students reading, could have been aired.
“From the content of the interviews, no one expected what was taken out of it,” she said. “They feel taken advantage of.”
The University was chosen as one of 10 sites to film segments because of its nationwide status as an advancing queer studies program, GLBT programs office officials said.