Several university-affiliated organizations have taken offense at a headline published in the Daily Nexus in early April, alleging that it was hate speech concerning American Indians.
The American Indian Graduate Student Alliance and the Graduate Student Association have voiced their concerns about the headline, “SB Scalps Aztecs in 15-8 Win[,”which was published on Thursday, April 2 on the sports page. The article was a recap of a baseball game between the UCSB Gauchos and the San Diego State University Aztecs. The AIGSA sent letters to the Nexus, the UCSB Press Council and Chancellor Henry T. Yang about their issues with the headline.
According to Monique Sonoquie, a board member of the AIGSA and a graduate student in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Dept., the Daily Nexus cannot fully address this issue in just a few quotes. She requested that a letter sent by the AIGSA to then Editor in Chief David Ferry on April 13 be published, in its entirety, in the Nexus.
“Before we go any further, I want to state that I don’t think that the significance of this issue can be addressed in a couple of comments from myself or any other,” Sonoquie said. “I think that the letter needs to be printed in full.”
To view a complete copy of the AIGSA letter, visit www.dailynexus.com.
Using the word “scalp” in the headline, the letter says, employed offensive, racist language. According to the AIGSA letter, the practice of “scalping” — which constitutes the violent removal of hair, skin and scalp tissue — stems from historical accounts of aggressions between colonists and indigenous people in New England. Ironically, the letter says, the offending headline was also historically inaccurate, as scalping was never a practice within the Aztec empire.
Sonoquie said American Indians are traditionally the subject of more ignorant hate speech than other minorities. The cultural insensitivity demonstrated by the Daily Nexus, she said, cannot be condoned.
“Even if your sports writers were insensitive enough to include derogatory statements about other minority groups, would headlines such as ‘SB Lynches Howard University Bisons’ or ‘Men’s Baseball Sends Brandeis Owls to the Ovens’ ever make it through your copy edit process?” the AIGSA letter asks. “We hope not. If racist language against African American or Jewish ethnicities were used in headlines there would be a large, public outcry likely resulting in the resignation/dismissal of the editor, sports editor, and any other staff involved in the decision to print such statements.”
According to current Editor in Chief Mackenzie Weinger, she and former EIC David Ferry reviewed journalistic ethics with the staff after the controversy was brought to the Nexus’ attention.
“After the headline’s publication, the then editor in chief and myself made sure to discuss the issue with the staff,” Weinger said. “The Daily Nexus adheres to the American Society of Newspaper Editors Statement of Principles and I will continue to encourage the staff to follow the highest standards of journalistic ethics.”
Weinger added that she looks forward to having an open dialogue with the campus community on any issues concerning the Nexus.
While the Nexus staff undergoes the demanded sensitivity training, perhaps AIGSA should have some DEsensitivity training — they obviously need thicker skins! The demands are totally out of proportion to the offense.
I understand why "SB Scalps Aztecs" is insensitive and a terrible headline, but this letter is ridiculous. Hate speech? Demands for mandatory sensitivity training and a series of articles concerning Native Americans? What? Way to be hypersensitive, AIGSA!
im half argentine and the word GAUCHO offends me !
I’ll remember those tactics when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around again. The Irish are about more than leprechauns and getting drunk on green beer dammit!