Administrators angered

Stacy Jo

A St. Paul Pioneer Press editorial cartoon labeled “The Plantation” sparked angry responses from top University officials Wednesday.
University President Mark Yudof and William Hogan II, chairman of the Board of Regents, issued a statement Wednesday responding to the cartoon that was printed in Tuesday’s Pioneer Press.
The cartoon depicts five black male basketball players during a game, while a white fan says, “Of course, we don’t let them learn to read or write!” The cartoon is referring to allegations by a former men’s athletics academic counselor that she wrote more than 400 papers for more than 20 men’s basketball players.
“The racist overtones of the cartoon and the implication that the University treats its student athletes as ‘slaves’ on a ‘plantation’ is simply beyond the considerable editorial latitude afforded to responsible journalists,” the statement read.
The response noted that this week more than one-third of student athletes were recognized as honors students and that the University provides all at-risk students with strong academic support.
It also identified the cartoon as “a slur against our students and faculty, and against this great university.”
Hogan said the cartoon is insulting to everyone involved with the University. He said the cartoon is not funny, but “pathetic.”
Labeling the work “The Plantation” hearkens back to a time that society should have moved beyond, Hogan said. The term is racist and implies slavery, he said.
The implication that the University does not let students learn to read or write is simply not acceptable, he added.
“I hope that people will assess the impact of this journalism piece and realize the damage that can be caused,” Hogan said.
McKinley Boston, vice president for student development and athletics, called the cartoon a “failed attempt at satire.” Boston said that as a former student-athlete and a person of color, he was bothered and offended by the cartoon.
“It trivializes the brutal reality of American slavery by comparing the experience of slaves to that of student-athletes,” he said.
Boston said he would expect fairness from the Pioneer Press since it is a major source of news that shapes public opinion.
He said he plans to meet with the associate vice president for multicultural affairs to discuss the cartoon and work out the best way to address the issue. He also plans to write a letter to the Pioneer Press’ editor voicing his concerns about the cartoon.
But several students who looked at the cartoon for the first time said they found it amusing until they noticed the “plantation” label. Some said they thought the label changed the tone of the work.
“It would’ve been fine to have the cartoon and leave (the label) off,” said Liz Bastyr, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts.