March 10, 2005
Fallout over the content of university newspapers has prompted a conservative lawmaker to call for eliminating state funding for student publications.
Rep. Russell Pearce, RMesa, said Wednesday he added the footnote to the proposed House budget this week at the urging of conservative lawmakers, including Sen. Jack Harper, RGlendale, and Sen. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa.
There is a similar item in the proposed Senate budget, Pearce said.
In the past six months, the presidents of Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University have taken significant issue with photographs and columns in campus newspapers.
In February, NAU’s Lumberjack published a column by student writer Claire Fuller urging readers to perform oral sex on their partners as a Valentine’s Day gift.
In October, ASU’s State Press published a full-page color photo on the back cover showing a woman’s bare breast pierced through the nipple to illustrate an article on body piercing.
The Lumberjack staff received a number of complaints from the public.
ASU officials said they also were contacted by angry members of the public, particularly women.
NAU President John Haeger denounced the incident in a letter circulated throughout campus.
ASU officials, at the direction of President Michael Crow, threatened to pull funding for the State Press and move it off campus.
ASU officials demanded that the paper establish an editorial policy about what can be published.
Mark Goodman, executive director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., called the measure "completely irrational" and said it would never survive a challenge in court because it amounts to censorship.