U.Va. students protest comic

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September 11, 2007

4:48 PM

The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia’s student-run newspaper, drew harsh criticism from students after running comic strips that made light of starvation.

p. Graphics Editor Grant Woolard’s drawing depicted men in primitive clothing wielding various items with the caption “Ethiopian food fight.”

p. According to the Sept. 6 issue of The Cavalier Daily, over 100 students conducted a “silent” protest, walking into the newspaper’s office in an effort to display dissatisfaction with the “ongoing problem” of the comics page.

p. The protestors met with members of the managing board and demanded that Woolard be removed from position as graphics editor.

p. A Cavalier Daily editorial published Sept. 6 apologized to those for whom the comic “elicited painful images and memories.”
However, it went on to say that the board felt that the protests “blocking the entrances and exits of The Cavalier Daily offices” were not constructive in solving the problems caused by the strip and that the board organized a public forum in an effort to make their editing process more transparent.

p. As of now, it is unclear whether or not Woolard will remain on the staff of The Cavalier Daily.

p. According to the Cavalier Daily’s website, Woolard still holds the position of graphics editor.

p. Interim Dean of Students Allen Groves, who participated in a discussion with the protestors prior to the march on newspaper headquarters, voiced concern over the specificity of the demands.

p. “When laying out a demand, you want to achieve an objective, but if you are too specific, they will dig their heels in and not do what you want,” Groves told The Cavalier Daily.

p. Last year, The Cavalier Daily saw similar controversy. According to radio station WCAV, Christian groups protested three comic strips drawn by Woolard that portrayed the Virgin Mary and Jesus in ways that many found offensive.

p. U.Va.’s NAACP political action chair, Solome Paulos, was quoted as saying Woolard is “continuously doing wrong” and expressed the hope that the removal of Woolard would demonstrate The Cavalier Daily’s diligence in preventing the occurrence of a similar incident in the future.

p. Both Groves and Herb Ladley, editor-in-chief at The Cavalier Daily, have proposed that more minority students join the staff of the newspaper in the hopes that fresh perspectives will preclude another such incident.

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