ASUC Passes Symbolic Bill Seeking Apology for Cartoon





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After heated debate, the ASUC Senate passed a symbolic bill late Wednesday night with an 11-7 vote condemning The Daily Californian for printing a political cartoon.

The bill asks for a front-page apology and mandatory sensitivity training for the newspaper staff because of a cartoon critics have called racist.

ASUC Senator Tony Falcone, one of the proposal's authors, said the bill sent out an important message.

"I think we came out on the side of student welfare and free speech because the bill is purely symbolic," Falcone said.

Senator Sajid Khan, also a co-author of the bill, said the nonbinding resolution represents the senate's opinion and does not restrain free speech.

"I think as student senators we have the right to express our opinion, just as the Daily Cal has a right to express their opinion," he said.

Printed in the Daily Cal on Sept. 18, the political cartoon drawn by syndicated cartoonist Darrin Bell depicts two men with long beards dressed in robes and turbans in a large hand amid flames. A flight manual sits next to one of the men. Bell has said the cartoon depicts terrorist hijackers, not Muslims in general.

Khan, however, said there was a direct correlation between the cartoon and Arab American students on campus being harassed.

Wajahat Ali, a member of the UC Berkeley Muslim Student Association, said he had to persuade some Muslim women to continue attending school despite the cartoon.

"Some sisters did not want to go to college (as a result of the cartoon)," he said. "We had to convince them to go."

Some senators, such as James Gallagher, spoke against the bill, saying it infringes on free speech.

"This is a free speech issue, and to look at it any other way would be really naive," he said, as people in the senate gallery interrupted with comments like "you're stupid" and "shut up."

Gallagher said the bill would restrict the independent student newspaper's right to print all forms of speech and might lead to long-term negative effects.

"It might come back to bite you in the ass," he said.

Another way to protest the Daily Cal is to stop reading it, Senator Puja Sarna said.

The ASUC bill that passed does not include a recommendation to raise the Daily Cal's rent. That recommendation was dropped in senate committee Monday.

Daily Cal Editor in Chief Janny Hu said ASUC's decision will not affect the editors' decision not to apologize for the cartoon.

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