CALIFORNIA — The Associated Students of University ofCalifornia San Diego (ASUCSD) has frozen funding for all student-funded mediaafter an outcry over statements broadcast on the Student Run Television (SRTV)channel.
The Koala, a humor magazine on campus, broadcast the program onSRTV that led to the funding freeze. The program featured KoalaEditor-in-Chief Kris Gregorian, said Simone Wilson, editor-in-chief of the UCSDstudent newspaper The Guardian.
Gregorian used a racial slur during a program that featured discussion ofa recent off campus “racial stereotype party” called the”Compton Cookout,” Wilson said. The Facebook page for the party saidit was “in honor of Black History Month,” she said, adding that newsof the party incited much anger among black students on campus.
After revoking the charter for SRTV on Feb. 18, Utsav Gupta, the presidentof the Associated Students of University of California San Diego (ASUCSD), whichallocates money from student fees, froze funds Feb. 19 for all student mediafunded through the organization.
“The Koala was not properly authorized to display content onSRTV. We are in the process of determining how the program was aired.”Gupta wrote in a statement on a university Web site called ‘Battle theHate.’ “In the meantime, as authorized by the ASUCSD Standing Rules,I have revoked the SRTV Charter for review.”
Brenda Madriz Montes, editor-in-chief of The Left Coast Post, one ofthe UCSD publications affected by the funding freeze, said that although SRTVwas the student medium in question, all other student media organizations willsuffer the consequences of the funding freeze.
“A lot of us feel that it is unfair and that our own freedom ofspeech is being infringed by this whole thing,” Montes said.
Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said theASUCSD should not be able to freeze all media groups’ funding based solelyon the content of one.
“They’re entitled to receive their funding unless there is ajustification that has nothing to do with content,” LoMonte said.”But it seems pretty clearly acknowledged that this is all aboutcontent.”
The funds will be frozen until a committee of students, faculty and anyinterested UCSD community member establishes a new set of speech guidelines,Gupta wrote in his statement. The first meeting of this group is scheduled fortonight.
“We must develop effective policies to ensure that our fees do notgo to the support the hateful speech that targets members of ourcommunity,” Gupta wrote. “I ask that those media organizations thatdid nothing wrong and are unfairly affected to be patient until we can resolvethis situation.”
Gupta could not be reached for comment by press time.
Wilson said The Guardian is “self-sufficient” in termsof funding, and therefore unaffected by the freeze and able to continue coverageof the issues as they unfold. The Koala, she said, has so much supportthat cutting its university funding will not stop it from publishing, addingthat an issue is expected to be published within the next few days.
“For every person that shouts about shutting down The Koala,there are 10 other people that love it,” Wilson said.
The Koala, Montes said, is known as an “equal opportunityoffender” that often includes racist jokes. She also believes one goal ofthe new speech codes would be to get rid of the Koala.
“[The Koala is] ready to fight this to the death,”Wilson said.
Koala Editor-in-Chief Kris Gregorian could not be reached forcomment by press time.