After a four-word editorial that read “Taser this. F*** Bush” made national headlines and prompted some CSU students to demand his resignation, Collegian Editor in Chief J. David McSwane will find out if he gets to keep his job tonight.
The Board of Student Communications (BSC) will hold a formal hearing for McSwane to discuss complaints issued against him in regards to the controversial Collegian editorial published September 21. The editorial was printed in the “Our View” on page four, which represents the views of the Collegian editorial board, a seven-member board of student editors.
A separate meeting was held last week to determine if complaints submitted the BSC showed merit. Outside the meeting, students and community members protested in support of McSwane while inside, people voiced their disapproval and support of the editorial to the Board.
While hearing participants at tonight’s meeting will have the option of requesting the presence of witnesses, the hearing will not be open to the public.
Following a discussion, the board will privately decide their course of action. Once a decision is reached, the board will announce their conclusion. The board may decide no repercussion for McSwane is necessary, or may choose to give McSwane a warning. However, if deemed necessary, McSwane could be suspended or dismissed from his position.
McSwane said he is somewhat anxious about the hearing, but maintains that he doesn’t deserve any harsh repercussion.
“There’s little room for apologies and punishments in exercising our civil liberties,” McSwane said.
For McSwane, the editorial and its aftermath have been issues of free speech, and his dismissal would have a haunting effect on colleges across the nation.
“I’ve said it before, this is a free speech issue,” McSwane said. “If they fire me, it’s a huge blow to free speech on a college campus, and it sets a really scary precedent for college newspapers across the country.”
McSwane claims the editorial was successful in its intent to stir free speech conversation across campus.
Katie Martin, a sophomore chemical engineering major, agrees, though she would’ve preferred different wording.
“I think the point could’ve gotten across in a less drastic measure,” Martin said. “But at the same time, it served its purpose and people are talking.”
Particularly vocal about the issue have been the College Republicans, who have led the push for McSwane’s removal. At a BSC meeting last week, the group presented a petition of over 500 signatures to the board, encouraging dismissal.
Chelsey Peyoner, College Republicans chairman, said she thought such action was entirely appropriate.
“I hope the board does the right thing,” Peyoner said. “I hope they take into consideration the impact it’s had on other people.”
John Straayer, political science professor, said that the editorial wasn’t “the best” exercise in judgment, but it fell under the First Amendment protection. Straayer added that the time has come for the university community to move on.
“I think there’s been an overload of emotion and hyperbole surrounding this,” Straayer said. “It’s time for some sensible decision to be made and for students to get back to their studies, and for the political hysterics to move on to some other issue.”
Colin Cooper, a freshman biochemistry major, said McSwane deserves some form of repercussion, but not dismissal.
“I just think the guy should keep his opinion to himself,” Cooper said. “He should be punished in some way, but I don’t know if firing is the way to go.”
Senior reporter Eric Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.