Unfinished Business: ASMSU Should Lead Porn Discussion

It’s time to talk about porn.

As soon as ASMSU President Kiah Abbey and Vice President Lindsay Murdock entered office last spring, they were faced with complaints regarding the Procrastinator Theatre’s annual “end-of-year porno” tradition. Abbey and Murdock cancelled “Deep Throat” three days before the scheduled showing, deeming the controversial film an inappropriate use of student funds.

While their decision to cut the porn — consistently the theatre’s most popular event of the year — was bold, the way Abbey and Murdock’s handled the issue has left much to be desired.

The last-minute decision, which incited both praise and disdain, allowed little time for students to air grievances and left some feeling that their student government had misrepresented them.

When she explained their decision to the Exponent last spring, Abbey said she felt the “end-of-year porno” was not “inclusive to a majority of students on campus.” How she came to such an assessment of the student body, and in only a few days, remains unclear.

In that interview, Abbey said, “If at the end of the day students are really passionate about ASMSU supporting and sponsoring [the end-of-year porno], we absolutely will reconsider this decision.” Abbey told the Exponent she planned to host an open public forum this fall to discuss the future of the event.

Now, nine weeks into the semester, ASMSU has shown no real movement on the matter. It makes us wonder whether Abbey and Murdock intend to follow through with their earlier commitment to students, or if perhaps the statements made last spring were mere equivocation used to diffuse controversy.

When contacted by the Exponent editorial board this week about the issue, Abbey said ASMSU will hold a general student-input forum on Nov. 7. The meeting is meant to allow students to mention any and all concerns but will only highlight the “end-of-year porno” if student attendees raise the issue.

Such a forum by itself is not enough, especially with only one week’s notice. Given the sensitive nature of the subject, ASMSU cannot expect students to discuss the porn issue at a general forum. Rather, student government leaders should actively facilitate an environment where students feel comfortable talking about it.

Cancelling the tradition, we recognize, took a commendable amount of courage. But by upholding their promise to provide a venue for student perspectives, Abbey and Murdock can demonstrate their commitment to inclusive leadership.