Column in Collegian is subject of controversy

Toby Uecker

Toby Uecker

SDSU got a first-hand lesson in media impact this week following a controversial installment of the campus newspaper’s sex advice column.

The column prompted student debate across campus and drew the attention of local news agencies, including two Sioux Falls television stations.

Senior chemistry and mathematics major Sarah Cady first heard about the column from a report on KDLT. While she was somewhat surprised at the coverage, which she described as sensational, Cady also said it was a reminder of the statewide impact SDSU can have.

“We’re not an isolated unit,” she said. “Other people are constantly analyzing what is going on on campus.”

Cady said the sex column didn’t shock her too much.

“I think I’ve read worse columns,” she said, adding, “I think that topics could be handled in a more mature matter.”

Some students upset with that perceived lack of maturity aired complaints in the Collegian‘s opinion section this week, while others called journalism faculty and campus administrators.

Journalism Department Head Mary Arnold said she fielded several phone calls in the days after the column was published. She described the feedback as very negative overall.

Some of Arnold’s calls even came from parents planning to send their children to SDSU but reconsidering due to the material the Collegian published.

SDSU admissions personnel recieved similar phone calls mentioning the column.

Dean of Student Affairs Marysz Rames dealt with most of those complaints personally, informing worried parents about the review process for the newspaper and assuring them that students on campus were not all in favor of the action.

Rames said most seemed accepting of her explanation.

Overall, Rames said the newspaper should take its cues for editorial content from students.

“My issue is that students were concerned about it,” she said of the article. “I think … that lets you know ovrall where our student body is.”

In response to the negative feedback, Collegian editorial staff met Monday afternoon with its advisory board

The board, made up of journalism professionals, instructors, and student affairs personnel, discussed various options for dealing with the situation.

Arnold, one of the faculty members, said the organization can also play a role in preventing future problems at the Collegian.

“The hope is that the students in the future … will use the Advisory Board if there is something they’re concerned about.”