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August 31, 2007

Buffoons dismiss member for 'mistake'

Daily Camera CO):

A University of Colorado a cappella group said Thursday it has dismissed the member who wrote an audition questionnaire that mocked a freshman stabbing victim. Announcing the singer's dismissal and calling the audition form an "inconceivable mistake," Colin Birkhead, the CU Buffoons business manager, and David Accomazzo, music director for the nine-member group, signed a formal letter of apology.

In the letter, the group apologized for acting in "such an unprofessional and childish way." "We Buffoons take pride in our ability to represent both the student body and the administration," the letter said. "Clearly, we have failed."

The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union — reacting to the university's public remarks Wednesday that the application was "insensitive" — said such a response, even though it wasn't an official sanction, could have a chilling effect on free speech.

"These students have First Amendment rights," said Judd Golden, chairman of Boulder County's ACLU chapter. "Where, now, does the rest of the student body draw the line?" Golden said students might worry that if they say something "humorous" about a controversy or tragedy, they will get a phone call from the administration.

But CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said the university was only trying to appeal to students, asking that they be sensitive in the aftermath of a trauma on the campus. He said Wednesday that administrators had planned to get in touch with the group. "We're not trying to chill anybody's free speech," Hilliard said. "We're just asking that they take higher ground."

The Buffoons — who held the try-outs this week — have removed the controversial questions from their application. Birkhead and Accomazzo said their apology was intended for CU leaders, employees and students, as well as the victim and his family.

Posted by acapnews at August 31, 2007 9:37 PM

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