The Northern Star — the student paper at the Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, a school of  25,313 students an hour or so west of Chicago — published an unusual full-page, page-one apology today for a cartoon that ran in Wednesday’s edition.

Here’s today’s front page. Click for a larger look:

Here’s the text:

To the NIU and DeKalb community:

We would like to sincerely apologize for the cartoon published in Wednesday’s edition of the Northern Star. The publication was a clear misjudgment on our part. Though the aim of a political cartoon is to provide its readers with a social commentary, we realize this cartoon in particular overstepped the bounds of human decency good taste.

We understand the topic depicted is incredibly sensitive to the people on this campus and in this community.

We know you’re angry. We know you’re hurt. We know we messed up, and we feel awful about it.

The Feb. 14, 2008 shootings were a terrible tragedy to befall NIU, and no amount of time can change the situation or undo the damage. Any shooting, whether on campus or off, is not funny and should never be presented in a joking manner. We take the Feb. 14 shootings very seriously. Some of our staff members were in Cole Hall on that day; it hits home for us, too.

That said, the Northern Star is a student-run news organization, and although we try our hardest to provide our readers with professional and well-thought-out content each day, sometimes we fail.

This time we failed.

Though this error was a human mistake, we don’t want you to think that’s our excuse. We take full responsibility for our actions, and we will strive to do better in the future.

Sincerely,

The Editorial Board

The apology is then signed by six members of the editorial board.

And, not to rub it in or anything, but here is the cartoon that ran on page six of Wednesday’s edition:

Yeah: Not cool. Especially given what happened there nearly three-and-a-half years ago.

Find pages from the horrific February 2008 shootings here. Find a selection of one-year-anniversary pages here.

Find the paper’s web site here.