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CSULB students form group in response to Union Weekly article

After objecting to an article in the Union Weekly, students formed a new group in hopes of shedding light on social justice and gender issues.

JAGed, which stands for Justice and Gender Education, formed after some students were offended by a September article in the Union Weekly, the Cal State Long Beach alternative magazine funded by Associated Students Inc.

“How to Get Laid: A Girls’ Guide for Guys” set up a one-night stand situation, in which the reader is told: “When you get to her place just get to the fucking no dilly dallying, you don’t want to give her time to really think about it. Don’t be afraid to be aggressive.” The article also stated the woman would “God willing be far into her fifth drink.”

Although the Union bills itself as pure entertainment, some students were offended.

This included Sandie Reed, who is a re-entry student and a junior in women’s gender and sexuality studies. She first read the article when a classmate showed it to her.

Reed raised her hand and told the class about the article, and a discussion ensued. She said people were “floored by the content,” and soon the students wanted to get together and do something.

 

The petition

Feeling they would have more power with an organization behind them, the students formed JAGed: Justice and Gender Education.

Founding member Alisha Herrick, a senior studying women’s gender and sexuality studies, wrote a petition in September calling for the resignation of the Union’s editor-in-chief Kevin O’Brien, as well as the three female students who wrote the article. About 95 students signed the petition, Reed said.

O’Brien took the situation in stride, telling the Daily 49er his “biggest regret was not signing that petition.”

The group stood outside the Union’s office in the USU asking for signatures, which prompted O’Brien to come outside and talk to the students. Reed and Herrick said O’Brien promised to run any letters to the editor he received. But Reed said a letter she sent was never published.

Reed, who previously worked for the Orange County Register and the Los Angeles Times, said O’Brien should be held responsible for the content.

“I’ve been working for newspapers for 20 years. … I understand how articles come together and what the responsibility of an editor is,” she said. “I think he’s being irresponsible because the content is basically saying ‘Yes, it’s OK to commit a crime.’ “

 

ASI and the Union

ASI senator Roxanna Gracia was also upset by the article and brought it up during an ASI Senate meeting.

ASI funds the Union, an alternative weekly published since the 1970s that features art and entertainment content. The publication was expected to receive about $37,000 in subsidized funding from student fees this academic year, according to the 2010-11 ASI projected budget. But Executive Director Richard Haller told the Senate in September that ASI has no control over the paper’s content.

Reed said the JAGed students talked with Gracia to find out what they could do to make a statement against the article. In response, Gracia wrote a resolution condemning student activities promoting violent crimes. The resolution passed in October.

 

Moving forward

Now Reed is mentoring the students of JAGed as they work to become a recognized student club. It currently has about 70 people on its mailing list, and its founding students have written bylaws and a constitution, created a Twitter account at JAGedLB and started a blog at jag-ed.tumblr.com. JAGed meets Thursdays at 5 p.m., and plans to have a table set up at this week’s Practicing Peace festival.

Reed said she sees a great opportunity in the project.

“I think it has potential that could be up through the state, even nationally, with what we have in mind,” Reed said. “We have the start of a really great group and a lot of really great men and women in the group.”

Herrick said Reed is a valuable source and mentor as the group works to establish a print presence.

“Where Sandie’s expertise comes in is she has just a wealth of knowledge of how print publications work, the best way to advertise for them and to fundraise,” Herrick said. “Really, if we’re starting a newspaper or magazine from the bottom-up, she’s the best person to have around.”

Herrick said the goal of JAGed is to use an interdisciplinary approach to analyze social justice and gender issues. She said the group is looking for a variety of voices, and anyone is welcome to send article submissions to jag.ed.lb@gmail.com.

Herrick said, “It’s really exciting actually and a lot of us have just been really wanting to write about these issues that are often overlooked or ignored.”


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