Editorial: A Statement From The Maneater Editorial Board

We, The Maneater editorial board, would like to express our sincerest apologies to anyone offended by the April Fools’ edition of The Maneater, published April 3.

We regret that our publication decided to publish an offensive April Fools’ issue, and the following is a collective statement from the editorial board regarding how the issue was produced and how we plan to move forward.

We believe there was no malicious intent behind the decisions former Managing Editor Abigail Spudich made as overseer of the April Fools’ issue. However, certain decisions regarding the addition of profane language, particularly the nameplate of "The Carpeteater," took place without the knowledge of the majority of the editorial board. The majority of the staff agreed the nameplate for the April Fools’ edition was to be “The Humaneater,” and were not notified of the change.

This was an oversight we made based on our trust in the leadership of Ms. Spudich as managing editor and sole editor of all April Fools’ content. We could have been more insistent on expanding our designated roles as writers; for this, we take responsibility and offer our sincerest apologies.

While former Editor-in-Chief Travis Cornejo has expressed his detachment from the April Fools’ issue, he took responsibility for “authoriz[ing] the placement of ads directly inside the April Fool’s wraparound,” as stated in his apology and resignation. This decision damaged relations with several advertisers who were not aware their advertisements would be placed in the April Fools’ wraparound. We believe this continued the year’s trend of lack of communication between the executive editors and business staff.

As with Ms. Spudich, we do not believe Mr. Cornejo acted with any malicious intent, but we do believe he did not act accordingly in moving forward from this issue. We would have liked for Mr. Cornejo to play a more active role in rebuilding damaged relationships with MU students, faculty and organizations. The majority of the editorial board believes his lack of action reflected poorly on the paper.

Mr. Cornejo stated in his apology that he and the editorial board had differing views on how to handle the matter, stating, “My approach toward this situation has been fundamentally different than what my editorial board wanted and expected of me.”

The April Fools’ issue was the culmination of a year of a lack of communication and leadership. Finally, the majority of the editorial board decided the declining integrity of the publication called for direct action and accountability.

The majority of the editorial board worked together to formulate a proper action that reflected our principles of accountability. After researching how other publications in similar damaging situations acted and applying their actions to our context, we decided to draft a formal letter requesting the Student Publications Committee remove Mr. Cornejo and Ms. Spudich as editor-in-chief and managing editor, respectively. There was a period of meetings where the editorial board deliberated and drafted the letter, which was signed by a majority of the editorial board and business staff. Unfortunately, the result was that we were not able to be as up front with the public as we would have liked, but we felt the need to handle this matter internally before making this statement.

After submitting an apology with the help of the editorial board, Ms. Spudich stepped down from her position before we presented the letter requesting resignation to her. We approached Mr. Cornejo with a request for his resignation, and then the next day presented the Student Publications Committee with our request for his removal. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Cornejo resigned from his position.

We believe this accountability is punishment enough and Mr. Cornejo and Ms. Spudich should suffer no more repercussions. Our letter to the Student Publications Committee and this statement are not comments on Mr. Cornejo’s and Ms. Spudich’s personal integrity, but on their ineffective leadership as executive editors. We thank them for their otherwise long history of work and service to this paper and wish them the best in the future.

With new leadership focused on open communication under new Editor-in-Chief Kelly Olejnik and Managing Editor Pat Iversen, The Maneater is firmly committed to moving forward to better itself as both a publication and student voice.

Shortly after being elected for the 2012-13 academic year, Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Iversen began meeting with and reaching out to campus leaders from organizations such as the Residence Halls Association, the Legion of Black Collegians and the LGBTQ Resource Center, and will continue to do so.

We feel it is important that the community knows our door is wide open for any individual who wishes to speak with us, and that the Forum section of the paper is devoted to creating constructive dialogue on such issues. We encourage the community to comment on our website and send letters to the editor. We understand there is no better avenue for making positive steps forward than consistent, open communication with the community we serve.

The Maneater editorial board has submitted a request for training from the LGBTQ Resource Center’s Safe Space program and will continue to engage its staff in diversity education. Our Friday workshops during the 2012-2013 academic year will feature a continuous presence of leaders who can speak about diversity issues.

In accordance with plans that Ms. Spudich had already set in motion, The Maneater is also eager to host a public dialogue on fostering an inclusive campus environment. The event will be announced shortly, and we highly encourage attendance. We genuinely believe we can learn important lessons from every single member of this community, and we hope to use this knowledge in the future.

In light of this recent controversy, Ms. Olejnik and Mr. Iversen have canceled the April Fools’ edition for next year. This is an expression of our sincere commitment to redeeming ourselves within this community. We have learned through this process the risk of offending our readers and sources outweighs any potential reward. The succeeding executive editors can bring back the tradition at their own discretion. However, it is in the view of the publications committee that guidelines should be created for future April Fools' issues.

We have learned of the extent our impact has on this campus after interacting with the community, and we are intent upon ensuring the impact is a positive one. This incident has opened our eyes to the influence of our paper in the MU community. With this influence comes a responsibility to serve the community’s best interest. As we continue forward, we will keep a heightened awareness of our readership in mind.

The Maneater is determined to uphold journalistic integrity and to do right by our readers. We once again would like to express our sincerest apologies to any readers, sources and community members we might have offended in past weeks. We appreciate all of the feedback we have received throughout this process and wish to continue that open dialogue as we move in a positive direction.

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