As though the issue of hate speech on campus hasn’t been covered enough.
ASUCSD president Utsav Gupta pulled funding to 33 campus media outlets on February 20, following coinciding with perfectly with the dying Pacifica Forum outrage.
Apparently, “Jigaboo Jones,” a local radio shock-jock, organized a party he called the “Compton Cookout” with the help of several fraternity members. Jones, in his own off-color way of celebrating Black History Month, used the ghetto for the party’s theme. The facebook ad encouraged attendees to dress ghetto style, telling men to roll with their “Jersey’s, stuntin’ up in ya White T” and women to “have short, nappy hair.” No fraternity houses hosted the party, although several members of the UCSD Greek community helped organize it.
Days after the party, outrage of the offensive stereotypes swept UCSD. And in politics, you cry to state litigators instead of mom and dad. Legislative pressure prompted UCSD authorities to launch an “aggressive investigation” (Why hello, Joe McCarthy) of the students involved in promoting the party.
UCSD publication “The Koala,” known for patently racist and provocative content, aired a public statement on SRTV objecting to the investigations. The statement used the words the words “ungrateful n—-rs” among other racial slurs, according to Adam Kissel of FIRE.
In response to the advertisement, Gupta dissolved SRTV based on contractual permits which allow president to dissolve any media that breeches its contract.
Gupta says he was prompted to dissolve SRTV because he found out that Koala Program was produced illegally. “We [ASU President and VP] have authorization in cases of noncomplience to pull funding from programs” he says.
He additionally froze funding to 33 media organizations to review their content and look at whether the ASU is funding publications that harass and target community members. “The past few days here at UCSD have been intense” he says.
Gupta explains that the freeze is not permenent but temporary. “The 33 program list is actually inflated” he claims. Of the 33 programs listed, 14 have already published issues and have funding to finish their publications for the term. Gupta says the ASUCSD plans to review the publications and return funding when they have determined that the publications serve a public interest.
The fraternities suspended their members responsible for advertising the party, and the University launched “aggressive investigations” of the students. University Chancellor Mary Anne Fox was unavailable for comment on what the “investigations” were for. Considering how disciplining students for their actions would snap the first amendment neatly in half, I imagine they are investigating “whether or not the students did something mean”. What they’ll do after finding that students have prejudiced views is beyond me.
In the meantime, the University has set up a website, battlehate.com, to keep updated on what has basically become a massive PR circlejerk centered around taking down “hate-and bias-related events”. The link to Utsav Gupta’s reasoning for shutting down SRTV was conspicuously broken, and the rest of the site seems to be about everyone giving each other back rubs and fighting the h8ers.
Forces beyond the University are also calling for punishment of the students. According to FIRE’s release, members of the California State Legislature are calling for names, suspensions, and possibly expulsions of the involved students. Such members include Speaker-elect John Pérez, Speaker Karen Bass, and Assemblymember Isador Hall III.
Naturally FIRE jumped all over the issue, and sent two letters to the University on February 22. The first is directed at President Gupta regarding his media freeze actions, and the second at Chancellor Mary Anne Fox regarding the investigations.
FIRE alleges that The University’s actions of investigations and media freezes are unconstitutional, and that they are motivated by pressure from state legislatures to penalize students for protected speech. In their letter, FIRE says that “has violated the procedures for handling SRTV complaints and non-compliance issues as given in the Standing Rules” and issued a list of requests to reinstate the media. As of this writing, the UCSD Chancellery has yet to respond to FIRE.
The list followed with reminders that the ASUC is still an agent of the University and subordinate to University administrators, who are obligated to act in the interests of the First Amendment.
In light of the anti-fascism rallies at the U of O recently, the ASUC shutting down all campus media in response to hate speech comes at an ironically appropriate time. Maybe UCSD administration should consult legal aid before they bend over for a handful of zealous state legislators.
As has been the case too many times, student bodies have tried to defund speech they find offensive and hateful. Perhaps Ustav Gupta should read up on Southworth V Univ. Wisconsin Board of Regents, in which the Supreme Court established unconstitutionality of allocating student fees based on content.
The world is not a happy, good place. Anyone who has ventured beyond the politically correct walls of education knows. Trying to enforce decency in a public institution, not matter how noble the cause, is still illegal. People don’t become nice through the regulation of what they say.