Restore Funding To Media Organizations At UCSD
Dear Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and AS President Dominick Suvonnasupa,
As UCSD alumni and former campus leaders, we have an obligation to speak out and defend the vital role that media organizations have historically played on UCSD’s campus. We are deeply concerned by the Associated Students at UCSD's decision to vote to defund registered media organizations on campus. 1
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are critical to maintaining an open, healthy, and free society. At UCSD in particular, on-campus media organizations have a long and rich history of holding those in positions of power accountable, including the administration and the student government. Pledging to fund academic publications—as Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary Ratcliff has done—is insufficient and fails to maintain funding for creative and news media organizations on campus, many of which have existed for decades.
We remember when ASUCSD voted in 2010 to stop funding all on-campus registered media organizations in a well-intentioned—but misguided—attempt to prevent the publication of offensive content and silence dissenting voices. 2 After months of sustained pressure from passionate UCSD students and San Diego residents, the student government restored funding, realizing that the effects of trying to censor speech were ultimately more detrimental than the speech itself. 3
Five years later, UCSD is again at a crossroads. The Koala routinely publishes offensive and disgusting writing, which the majority of campus reviles. 4 However, the administration and AS believe the only way to legally remove funding for the Koala is to remove funding for all student publications. Less than a day after the vote, the Koala had already raised enough money in private donations to print for the rest of academic year. 5
While the Koala has outside funding sources, most of the other media organizations at UCSD do not. Therefore, rather than promote healthy debate by providing funding for students to print and disseminate their views, the actions taken by AS have silenced the other organizations and diminished the opportunity for students to meaningfully discuss these important issues. 6
Participation in media organizations has provided vital experience to UCSD students and alumni. Many alumni are now published authors and work for a variety of scientific journals, newspapers, and other creative outlets, in no small part due to their work writing and editing for media organizations during their time as students at UCSD. Universities provide a unique and safe environment for students to write, create art, edit, and publish their work. The important leadership roles that students have held when helping to run media organizations have aided students (including signatories of this letter) in gaining prestigious jobs and admission to graduate and professional schools. Removing media organization funding will fundamentally and irreparably damage the student experience at UCSD. 7
Therefore, we call upon Chancellor Khosla and AS President Suvonnasupa to recognize that harming all campus publications in the bid to defund the Koala is not the answer and ask that they take immediate actions to restore AS funding to registered student media organizations.