Ah, college life.
All-night study sessions in the library. Professors
challenging the conventional wisdom. Snowball battles on the
For students at
the University of Missouri-Columbia, college is all about
casual sex, meddling parents, foul-mouthed friends, and
partying until you puke -- that is, if you believe the
portrayal in The Booze News, a new weekly newspaper
that glorifies the wonders of heavy drinking.
founders, a pair of University of Illinois graduates,
call The Booze News (motto: ''Today's
News...Under the Influence'') an over-the-top satire modeled
after The Onion, the popular parody newspaper started
by college students in Madison, Wis., that has since gone
But some Missouri
students and local business owners aren't laughing. A
Booze News book review about interracial gay
adoption that referred to the two male parents as ''freaks''
drew a formal protest and request that university
officials censure the paper.
business owners have thrown out the free paper, which
has published seven issues, afraid of offending customer
sensibilities. Even some campus fraternity houses deem
the material too edgy for members.
''The paper is
not for 8-year olds,'' said cofounder Atish Doshi, a 2004
Illinois graduate from suburban Detroit. ''It's about being
immature college kids. That's what makes it
successful. We don't take ourselves seriously.''
Success has come
quickly for Doshi and Derek Chin, who said they started
the paper three years ago ''as a complete joke.''
The Booze News can now be found at Illinois
State, Indiana, Iowa, and the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, along with Missouri and Illinois.
Doshi, who works
in Chicago with a full-time staff of six, said he
expects to expand to another dozen campuses in the next
''I would love to
be at as many schools as possible,'' Doshi said.
''There will always be college students.''
senior Kyle Ali, a Chicago native, such a scenario is
troubling. As a peer educator who works to control drug and
alcohol abuse, Ali said The Booze News sends
the wrong message, humorous or not.
''This is a
publication that clearly condones high-risk behavior,'' he
said. ''There's nothing that talks about alcohol poisoning
or drunk driving.''
A recent issue of
the Missouri edition does contain a public service
announcement by the U.S. Department of Transportation about
the dangers of drunken driving. There's also a small
disclaimer that the paper ''in no way promotes,
encourages or supports binge drinking and/or underage
is designed for entertainment purposes only,'' the
though, are features on the local bartender of the week,
alcohol reviews, drink recipes, drinking game instructions,
and guidelines on how to beat hangovers.
The paper's Web
site boasts that its writers, editors, and advertising
sales crew members ''are drunk at least four hours a day,
six days a week'' but assures readers that ''we are
not obnoxious drunks.''
article about the adoptive gay couple -- a supposed book
review in which the unidentified author looked solely at the
cover of the children's book -- crossed the line from
satire to threatening speech, said Ali.
He wrote a letter
to other campus activists and the university's vice
chancellor of student affairs urging a potential boycott of
local businesses that distribute the weekly paper.
was specifically threatening to the social environment on
this campus,'' he said.
managing editor, who has since stepped down, acknowledged in
a note to readers that the article, though intended as
humor, ''went a little far.'' Doshi said he regretted
publishing it, adding that the writer has since been
acceptance in Columbia will come with time, Doshi said.
and does the same thing at some point in life,'' he
said, ''but when they see it in print and have it become a
realization, all of a sudden it's morally
wrong.'' (Alan Scher Zagier, AP)