Satirical magazine causes uproar on Calif. campus, problems for editors

CALIFORNIA — Student editors of asatirical newspaper at the University of California at San Diego were notpunished after facing disciplinary charges for a June edition that portrayed thereligious and cultural practices of Muslims in a sexual manner. The studentgovernment, however, is now investigating the Koala for possibleviolations of a student government charter, which could result in a fundingfreeze for the quarterly publication. The Muslim Student Associationfiled a complaint with the university in June, arguing that the issue, titled“Jizzlam, An Entertainment Magazine for the Islamic Man,” degradedand discriminated against the Muslim community. The 16-page edition includedillustrated articles like “The Jizzlam guide to sexual positions duringprayer” and “The Miss World Jizzlam burkini contest.”The university determined in July that the Koala editors couldnot be punished for violating the code of conduct because the “Jizzlam” contentwas protected by the First Amendment. Nick Aguilar, director of studentpolicies and judicial affairs, said the university condemned the issue, callingit “vile and obscene.” However, he said constitutional lawprohibited the school from punishing the students for content. “It is unfortunate that the First Amendment is abused tounnecessarily hurt students,” he said. “The incident has been verydifficult for the campus. It is disappointing that despite all of our efforts ofpromoting tolerance and civility that we would have one of our studentpublications engaged in this kind of hurtful content.”Aguilar saidthe Koala generally prints “offensive” material, but this wasworse because of its sexually explicit nature. Koala 2003-2004 Editor BryanBarton said he never thought the “Jizzlam” issue would cause so muchdebate on campus. He said the former editor of the paper was attacked by a groupof people who were angry about the edition.The university police saidthey took 200 copies of the newspaper when they were called to anotheraltercation between Koala editors who were distributing the publicationand a group of offended students.Sgt. Bob Jones said the editorssurrendered the newspaper in order to stop the fight. The police turned over thecopies to the student conduct coordinator as part of the school’sinvestigation, Jones said. According the Barton, the six police officerswho were called to the scene threatened to charge the students with litteringand having unauthorized material. Jones said no threats were made and no chargeswere ever filed.Barton said about 3,000 additional copies of thenewspaper were stolen the day it was distributed. Barton, who was not serving as editor in chief when the incident took place, said he suspects thatstudents and university employees were responsible for the theft, which cost theKoala about $500 in advertising revenue and printing costs.Several students also demanded that editors get rid of the remaining2,000 copies of the 6,000 press run. In response to this, Barton said thoseissues of the Koala were being kept in a locker for safekeeping.“People need to let loose,” Barton said. “I hurtpeople’s feelings, but that is the price you have to pay for freespeech.”Aguilar said the student government is now determining ifthe Koala violated the media charter, a set of rules that all studentpublications that receive student activity fees are required tofollow.Francis Galvin, commissioner of communications for the AssociatedStudents, said the Koala might have violated the rule that requires allpublications to print a disclaimer stating that the paper does not share theviews of the student government. Galvin said the “Jizzlam”issue of the Koala did not have a disclaimer and an investigation wasbeing conducted by members of the Associated Students to determine what, if any,consequences the paper could face. If the newspaper is found to have violatedthe media charter, Galvin said their funding could be frozen until studentgovernment holds a hearing. She maintained that the Koala was notbeing investigated based on its content but because of the possible mediacharter violation. “As far as funding goes, we are 100 percentcontent neutral,” Galvin said. “But if you do not follow the mediacharter there are possible repercussions.”According to the 2000U.S. Supreme Court decision in Southworth v. Board of Regents of theUniversity of Wisconsin System, universities or their student governmentscannot determine funding for campus groups based on the views theyexpress.Each UCSD student is required to pay a $21 per quarter studentactivity fee that goes toward the Associated Students $1.3 million dollarbudget. The Koala, like the rest of the media on campus, can apply forfunding from the Associated Students each quarter. Koala editorssaid the newspaper missed the application deadline for funding last spring anddid not receive any Associated Students funding. Instead, the paper waspublished using advertising revenue only. One former editor, who wishedto remain anonymous because he feared punishment by the university, said thatthe Associated Students did not provide funding and therefore should not requirethe Koala to follow their rules. “We usually have adisclaimer in the issues, but editors felt that it would spoil the satiricalnature of the newspaper,” he said. “It would be giving credit whereno credit was due. It is hard to see why it is necessary to demand a disclaimerbecause they didn’t pay for it.”The former editor said hebelieved the Associated Students were trying to punish the newspaper for itscontent.“It would be extremely out of character for the AssociatedStudents to freeze the funding of the organization for something as simple asleaving out a logo or disclaimer,” he said. Muslema Purmel, amember of the Muslim Student Association, told the San Diego UnionTribune that she was upset the university did not punish the newspapereditors.“Ideally, I wanted the university to say this was notprotected speech,” she told the Tribune. “Common sense tellsyou this should not be printed on a college campus.” Barton saidhe hoped to work things out with the Muslim Student Association in the fall, when his term as editor in chief will begin. “I am going to talk with the president of the Associated Studentsand set up a dialogue between the Koala and the Muslim StudentAssociation,” he said. “I want to tell them it was a joke. There wasno harm meant at all.”

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