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the Campus Press is now the CU Independent Today is the third anniversary of the "War Against Asians" controversy, which was sparked by an ill-advised and poorly executed satire in the Campus Press, the student-run news website of the University of Colorado in Boulder. I remember the date because it ran on Feb. 18 -- one day before the annual Japanese American observance of Day of Remembrance, when President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 110,000 people of Japanese Ancestry, half born in the US and therefore American citizens. So here was this commentary by a young student journalist, who thought it would be appropriate to make fun of Asians on the CU campus in a piece titled "If it's war the Asians want... it's war they'll get." In my initial reaction to the article, I quoted this passage:
I'm such a fool for not realizing it sooner. I can't tell you how many times the Asians have treated me like a retarded weasel and I've forgiven them. But now I know that Asians are not just "a product of their environment," and their rudeness is not a "cultural misunderstanding." They hate us all. And I say it's time we started hating them back. That's right-no more "tolerance." No more "cultural sensitivity." No more "Mr. Pretend-I'm-Not-Racist." It's time for war. But we won't attack their bodies or minds. We will attack their souls."
Some people might say that we're being too sensitive, but every Asian I know was outraged and offended. The article spread like wildfire, passed along via email and word-of-mouth. It didn't just make an impression with readers on the CU campus -- especially Asian and Asian American students, who felt unsafe. It provoked passionate angry reactions within the Asian community in Denver, and with Asian student groups in Denver. I wrote my response (and a bunch of follow-up blog posts), and others did too. There were community meetings to discuss what steps to take to protest the column. A group of the area's Asian and Asian American leaders met with CU administrators, including the dean of the journalism school and the university's chancellor. Meetings were held. A public protest on campus drew the attention of the local media. Nobody thought it was funny. The repercussions from this column have echoed ever since -- and in good ways.

CU Independent faculty advisor Amy Herdy has guided her students from its darkest days to a new campaign against racism and prejudice. The bus sign above her is part of the students Three years ago this week, a student news website at the University of Colorado sparked a firestorm of protest. The website posted a column by a student, Max Karson, which ineptly tried to address racism on the CU campus by poking fun at Asian stereotypes. The column, "If It's War the Asians Want, It's War They'll Get," stirred the Denver area's Asian and Asian American communities to organize and demand changes at the University. The timing was unfortunate, because it ran on Feb. 18, just a day before the 2008 Day of Remembrance, when Japanese Americans mark the signing of Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of 120,000 people of Japanese descent in American concentration camps during World War II. The column joked about "locking up" all Asians. The area's Asian communities weren't amused, and rallied quickly to protest. So did student organizations not just at CU, but at the states other universities. National Asian American and civil rights organizations sent letters of protest to the Campus Press, but to the CU administration. In the two years since, there haven't been a lot of concrete changes at CU in general over racial issues as far as many students can see, but there have been lots of changes at the Campus Press. Its faculty advisor, Amy Herdy, a former colleague of mine at The Denver Post, was an early target of protesters but it turned out the rules for the website prevented her from having editorial control. It's a student-run website. But since then, Herdy and the students who run the website have been busy rebuilding the class's reputation, upgrading its commitment to quality journalism, and have worked hard to avoid ever allowing something like the "War Against Asians" column from bubbling up again.