Students and community members gathered at the Grand Ballroom in the Student Union Memorial Center on Wednesday night to address the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s publication of a comic strip that depicted a father threatening his child about coming out.
The Associated Students of the University of Arizona Pride Alliance held the discussion, inviting the campus to discuss the comic that ran on Oct. 16, what actions should be taken at the Wildcat, and who should be held accountable.
The comic that was published in Tuesday’s issue sparked a backlash from readers across the country. The comic was first put on the Wildcat’s Facebook page, which led to readers expressing their concern through phone calls, emails and online comments. Eventually, Mike Webb, a gender and women’s studies senior, began a petition for the resignation of Kristina Bui, the Wildcat’s editor-in-chief, the cartoonist and copy editor. The petition currently has 8,700 signatures.
The forum began with an introduction from Jennifer Hoefle Olson, program coordinator of LGBTQ Affairs, followed by speeches by Bui and Webb. The forum was then opened to comments from the audience.
Much of the commentary was directed toward Webb and the Wildcat’s editorial board, and focused the UA’s commitment to promoting diversity and how the comic does not represent such diversity.
“Initially, I was frustrated and my frustration wasn’t just isolated to myself,” Webb said. “I was frustrated for people who have experienced that sort of alienation and for people still feeling alienated and that we are having a hard time escaping that and finding a sense of community.”
A common criticism of Bui regarded how she could have let something like the comic run in the paper. The cartoonist, David Parsons, was trying to illustrate that such horrible cases do exist but they shouldn’t, Bui said.
“Saying ‘This should happen’ is obviously not ever OK, but for that cartoon to say something like ‘This does happen’ wasn’t enough. It should have said something like ‘Look at this horrible thing; it really does happen in real life but it shouldn’t.’”
Bui said she has accepted responsibility for the publication of the comic, and added that the Wildcat has changed its editorial policies regarding the comics page. It will no longer be left until the last minute and finished in a rush, which is how the comic found its way into the paper last week, she added.
The new policy requires the approval of two other editors besides Bui, the copy chief and the design chief.
Although much of the audience thanked the editor-in-chief for taking responsibility, Dale Karas, a senior studying optical engineering and music composition, asked about the possibility of the Wildcat providing financial support or advertising for counseling for those who have been negatively impacted by the comic.
Although some made requests for additional action or resources from the Wildcat, a number of attendees said that they accepted Bui’s apology.
“I sincerely believe that Kristina Bui is sorry,” Hoefle Olson said. “I believe in her sincerity. I feel like she handled this with a lot of integrity. I don’t think I can speak to whether this will happen again or not, and similar things have happened which makes me think this will happen again, but I hope it doesn’t.”
Bui added that moving on is the next step.
“I can’t apologize enough for what happened,” Bui said. “The best that I can do and that the Daily Wildcat can do is say sorry, and then go forward with the lesson.”