updated 2/13/2004 11:07:49 AM ET 2004-02-13T16:07:49

Warning that free speech has limits, Harvard University officials say they will keep a close watch on a student-run sex magazine and could withdraw approval if they deem the publication pornographic.

In a statement released Thursday, Harvard also backed away from initial statements indicating that the creators of “H Bomb” magazine could apply for school funding, stating that “no funds from Harvard will be provided for this publication.”

University officials announced Wednesday that they had approved the student magazine, which will feature art, sex advice and fiction — as well as photographs of undressed Harvard undergraduates.

“We are aware of the fact that some segments of the population would find the contents distasteful,” said Associate Dean Judith H. Kidd, a member of the 14-person board that approves all student organizations. “However, the committee considered this to be an issue of freedom of speech.”

The committee, made up of faculty, staff and students, approved “H Bomb” with a 12-0 vote, with two abstentions. It is not certain when the first issue would be published.

The magazine cannot take its photos on university property, a policy that applies for all of the school’s undergraduate publications.

Vassar and Swarthmore colleges also have sex-themed magazines, though "H Bomb" is the first such publication for Harvard.

The students proposing the magazine, Katharina C. Baldegg and Camilla H. Hrdy, have unlisted phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and could not be reached for comment by The Associated Press.

But Hrdy told WBZ-TV that there is a need for the proposed publication. “Just the fact that there’s no publication that allows an outlet for what everyone’s talking about seems kind of ridiculous,” she said.

A Harvard Crimson newspaper story described H Bomb as a “porn magazine,” but Baldegg and Hrdy dispute that description in a statement released by a Harvard spokesman.

“What we are proposing is an outlet for literary and artistic expression that is both desired and needed, not a pornographic magazine,” it read.

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