The Koala is an outlet for students to express themselves

by Anna Fiorino, Contributor

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I like The New York Times. I read The Paris Review on occasion. I own my fair share of Steinbeck and Fitzgerald. I dabble in Murakami and McEwan.

And every time, without fail, I find myself instinctively reaching for a copy of The Koala — San Diego State’s raunchy, satirical newspaper — as some random kid tries to hand me one as I pass by Hepner Hall.

I’m not alone. When I walk into my poetry class on Thursday, half of my class, many of whom are English majors, will have one in hand.

The cover of this semester’s first issue, in case you haven’t seen it, is a truly captivating collage: a Greek-inspired, classic Koala orgy of nudity, substance abuse and violence. The rest of the pages are more of the same juvenile, crude, explicit content — frankly, content we’ve come to expect.

Yet, there is an element of rawness that is appealing.

Maybe it’s because it looks like someone threw it together in ten minutes. No one proofread the grammar or ensured alignment with AP Style. It thrives off our instinctual craving for controversy, and Koala-approved topics are rooted in just that. At the end of the day, The Koala is just another reminder that sex and gossip always sell.

It’s been featured by the New York Times for being a controversial student newspaper. But like it or not, The Koala is an outlet for feelings, perspectives and ideas that would otherwise be ignored by the mainstream media. Think of it as a free print edition of Twitter or Yik Yak. One, big, group chat for SDSU students.

Reader-contributed content is published as-is. No mechanical edits, no filtering, no rephrasing, no strategic contextual placement. This stripped-down version of what it is to be a young adult at SDSU is shocking, comforting and addicting all the same.

There is one thing we can count on when it comes to The Koala: they will usually take it too far. It’s awkward navigating the sentiment behind the content and at times, easy to dismiss as profane, racist or misogynistic. But the fact that there is room for “too farness” is undoubtedly what makes The Koala what it is. It’s a safe space for experimenting with humor and exploring controversial topics in very controversial ways. It is, at the very least, poorly executed comedic relief in a time dominated by political tension.

People don’t write to be bad guys. The strategy behind The Koala’s content is probably more or less similar to any other publication. It is something people will read, something people will laugh at, something that will make people say, “That’s so true” or “What the f***?” People write to share and connect with other people. And the truth is that you don’t have to be a serious, highbrow, politically correct writer to create something that resonates with people.

On that note: Who are any of us to decide what is too far? Or what is funny and what isn’t? What is crossing the line and what stops just before?

There is an unexpected sense of community in the pages of The Koala. Perhaps it’s reassurance that, at their core, everyone else is just as sick as we are.

Anna Fiorino is a senior studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @annafi0.

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