“We want longevity,” Audrey said, “We planned this for a year, we wanted to do it right.”
Names have been changed as the creators of The Kumquat asked to remain anonymous.
The Chapman Kumquat, a student-run satirical newspaper, wasn’t surprised when Dean of Students Jerry Price took down the papers they had posted around campus.
“We put (them) on Ronald Reagan’s face,” said George, one of The Kumquat’s creators. “We should have known it wasn’t going to stay there.”
But the attention from students was surprising, George said. Their hidden identities add “mystique” to the paper, he said. The Kumquat believes that their success was also due to their humor, not just the mystery.
“Who are we? Who knows? This is college, we don’t even know who we are,” said Audrey, one of The Kumquat’s creators.
The satire paper started as a joke between the two founders, they said. Once they decided to produce it, they figured it would end up being some “off-to-the-side, fringe thing.” Instead, they received a massive response. Fifteen students applied to work for the paper after their first issue was published, but The Kumquat can only hire three to five more people, they said.
“We were in class and students in the row in front of us were reading it and passing it around,” Audrey said. “It took everything in us not to be like, ‘Hey, you’re laughing at my cartoon.’”
The Kumquat has been a year in the making. In 2017, the founders reached out to The Panther looking to start a satire section. When they didn’t receive a response, they took to Twitter, posting twice before they began working on the paper. After months of rewriting, designing, and crafting their tone and voice, they published the first issue Sept. 19. Two hundred flyers were posted on campus.
The idea of the paper is that students take the papers down from where they’ve been posted to read them. After the first 200 were taken down by students, Kumquat members posted 200 more.
The Kumquat was inspired by other satirical publications like The Harvard Lampoon and The Onion, and the co-founders want to write for Saturday Night Live. They want to bring a piece of that comedy to Chapman, since the university doesn’t have a lot of outlets for being critical, they said.
“Honestly it’s doing everything we wanted it to do,” George said. “We wanted it to be an object of joy and laughter and an outlet for comedy.”
Price told The Panther he enjoyed The Kumquat’s first issue, even though it violated school policy. The issue was “nerve-wracking”, he said, because some people might find the content “unattractive and offensive.”
Price said he supports the satire, and that general discussion and writing sometimes needs be socially or politically “edgy” in order to make a larger point. He said he believes it’s been a part of history for a long time.
“There’s nothing in there that bothered me particularly,” he said. “Some of it, I thought, was kind of amusing, but I won’t be specific.”
Price clarified why The Kumquat papers were taken down in a tweet on Sept. 19. He said he didn’t want his tweet to be interpreted as critical and he only tweeted for informational purposes. The papers were taken down for violating Chapman’s posting policy, not because of their message, he said.
“My biggest fear was that people would think we took down The Kumquat because of what it said,” he said. “I didn’t want people to think we removed it because of the content.”
In the tweet, Price also refuted The Kumquat’s claims that he has a “tramp stamp of a Fenestra.”
“I didn’t want to sound too administrative and serious,” Price said. “I decided to clear up about the tramp stamp in the same tweet and add a little levity to the situation.”