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Last week, all hell broke lose when Daily Texan cartoonist, Stephanie Eisner, drew a racist depiction of the Trayvon Martin case, causing controversy within the minority community and painting the university as a racist institution.
By mid-day on Tuesday, the cartoon had gone viral through social media, e-mail, cell phones, and even other news outlets picked up the cartoon in awe of the racist messages printed in the school’s prestigious newspaper. That same day, the “Justice For Trayvon Martin” rally was held at the south gates of the Texas Capitol and ended at City Hall. By nightfall, the Daily Texan released a statement, "The views expressed in the cartoon are not those of the editorial board. They are those of the artist. It is the policy of the editorial board to publish the views of our columnists and cartoonists, even if we disagree with them.">The statement enraged the university and much of the student body. By Wednesday, the Daily Texan cartoon was the topic of discussion in nearly every class, especially African American studies classes and journalism classes, creating a divide amongst the students. In an attempt to express their frustrations to the publication, students held a protest in the communications plaza.
Just like the cartoon, the Facebook event, "Picket the Daily Texan" spread like wildfire. By 1 p.m. on Wednesday, despite the rain; students, faculty and staff voiced their ill feelings toward the school newspaper for publishing such a racist cartoon and had a list of demands including the public announcement of Stephanie Eisner's termination and an apology. It was enraged students against the DT, and the DT was outnumbered by the masses By the end of Wednesday, an apology was published on the DT website including the removal of Eisner from the DT. Some students were pleased, others were still disgusted, and other students were upset that the Eisner was fired instead of the resignation of the editorial board.
The Daily Texan was recently awarded the top college newspaper award from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors 2011. However, despite the national accolades that the DT receives each year, the large number of students against the DT overshadows them. In an attempt to further diversify the staff, the DT has reached out to minority groups and encouraged them to apply for staff writer positions. The staff is also considering taking a class to learn how to properly cover minorities in the media.
However, many students have completely lost faith in its newspaper and are pursuing a newspaper to represent minorities, "Black Ink". Although the university is divided between those that believe that cartoon was offensive and those that did not, it further reverts the university to a time in history that students did not anticipate experiencing. While change cannot occur overnight, the university is hopeful that students will stand united once again.
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