Editorial: UCSD Freedom of Speech not Under Attack

There’s a certain irony in the fact that UCSD was included in a recent Huffington Post opinion piece entitled “The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2016” for cutting print funding. The Huffington Post, as most know, has never been a print publication.

Defunding print media does not limit freedom of speech on the UCSD campus. We figured the best place to explain this would be in our self-funded newspaper (estimated cost: $20 a year).

The Associated Students Council of UCSD (AS) voted on Nov.18 to defund all student print media outlets provoking significant backlash from several organizations — both on and off campus. The decision has been called “unconstitutional,”  and described as infringing on First Amendment rights. Yet, no one has pursued any legal recourse.

Many students and several third-party organizations believe the decision was motivated by a desire to remove student funding from the Koala. Days before the decision, UCSD administration released a statement saying they “strongly denounce the Koala publication and the offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish. The Koala is profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”

READ MORE: INTERVIEW WITH GABE COHEN, EDITOR OF THE KOALA

In a December editorial condemning the AS decision, The Daily Bruin applauded UCSD’s apparently “vibrant alternative student media,” citing UCSD’s “expansive” amount of student publications and implying that all would be significantly affected by the funding cut.

In the 2015-16 academic year, UCSD’s student publications included The Triton, The Guardian, The Collective Voice, The Progressive, Muir Quarterly (MQ), the Fashion Quarterly Magazine, and several research journals. Not all of these publications were funded by Associated Students directly and not all of these publications were in print. In taking a look at each of these publications, it becomes painfully obvious that the funding cut only impacted a select group of publications and even then, for most, the issues were resolved within a matter of weeks.

The Guardian receives most of their funding from advertising revenue, and has continued with their existing print and online publication schedule.

The Collective Voice is sponsored directly by SPACES, an indirect outlet of AS funding dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment on campus. Academic publications (The Saltman Quarterly and the Undergraduate Research Journal) can receive funding from The Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs.

The MQ reorganized their funding structure within weeks of the cut. Several third party criticisms aimed at AS and UCSD as a whole failed to take into account UCSD’s six college system or unique college-empowered governance structure. This oversight when Muir College Council (MCC) decided to fully fund the MQ, because of its contributions to the Muir College environment, said MCC President Moiz Ansari.

When push came to shove, the only student publications significantly affected by the cutting of print funds were Fashion Quarterly Magazine and the Koala.

The number of UCSD student publications had been steadily declining prior to the funding cut, regardless of any AS interaction. Perhaps this is due to apathy, perhaps to a changing campus demographic, but certainly not to funding cuts.

Let’s be clear — The Triton is a student publication. We are a group of student journalists, we actively seek to encourage transparency and awareness of campus news and events, and we are strong supporters of First Amendment rights. You don’t need paper and ink to say something — just say it.

Print’s not dead, it’s just not necessary.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Triton Editorial Board. If you’d like to respond to one of our Editorials, we encourage it.