Editorial: Dear UCSD Admin, Student Journalism Matters

Triton Times Volume 4, Issue 6

At UC San Diego, we keep talking about free speech. For example, in response to incidents of white supremacy on campus, our administration told a New York NPR affiliate:

“The antidote to hate speech is more speech—speaking out against intolerance and bigotry—and one the university will continue advocating.”

Great. The Triton completely agrees. But when push comes to shove, our administration has done little to actually advocate for student journalism as a valid form of free speech. On the UCSD Freedom of Speech website, there is only one reference to journalism.

More so, on several occasions, administrators have directly or indirectly contacted campus newspapers to ask them to stop looking into stories or to not publish. On several occasions, UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla has asked student journalists to not record public meetings.

A 2015 study found that most college administrators respond to hate crimes and hate speech by focusing on public relations, instead of actual tangible solutions. At UCSD, we hope our administration is dedicated to free press regardless of how the news cycle reflects on PR.

While UCLA and Berkeley have vibrant student newspapers with rich histories on their campuses, they have not always been supported (and we say that lightly) by their campus administrations. But at the very least, we can acknowledge that because they have strong student newspapers, their respective campuses are more accountable and students are more informed.

Furthermore, student newspapers are a public service in line with the university mission. We have trained students to generate and disseminate information to a broad public audience.     

At The Triton, we have a monthly average readership of 40,000. Yet, we have no office space. We have a staff of around 70 people, mostly people of color and mostly women. And we’ve been cited by outlets like The New York Times, Quartz, The San Diego Union Tribune, Foreign Policy, Vice News, ABC 10, NBC 7, and Voice of San Diego. Our staff has gone on to work at Gizmodo, inewsource, the US Census Bureau, and for US Senator Kamala Harris. We are only two years old and want to continue to add on to both of these lists.

In La Jolla, we are a city on a hill. Whereas the Daily Californian can afford to be an independent newspaper off campus, it’s not feasible for us to rent anywhere other than on campus. UC Santa Barbara has two newspapers and both are housed on campus. The Daily Bruin at UCLA has its own hall. We’re asking administrators at UCSD to take student media more seriously.

We know that in 2016, Associated Students of UCSD defunded student media. We don’t take issue with that. We take issue with the fact that there aren’t any spaces on campus for student media, rentable or otherwise. We take issue with the fact that the administration has seemingly not sought to mitigate the “chilling” of free speech they seem so concerned about when interacting with journalists. We take issue with the fact that the administration in several facets has completely ignored student voices.

We’re asking for a good faith effort to affirm student dialogue and show that our administration actually cares about free speech. Student journalism is a dialogue. If you have something you want to say, submit it. If you disagree with something, tell us. This is what administrators do at both UC Berkeley and UCLA.

We want to hear from administrators. We want to have an actual conversation. We’re asking, explicitly, for you to respond.

Editorials represent the majority opinion of The Triton Editorial Board. If you’d like to submit a response, or comment on a different issue affecting the UC community, please submit here.

  • xicano sandiego

    Excellent piece. It is true that UCSD admin has not only asked student publications to drop stories but also has made the same request to off-campus outlets like the Union Tribune in an effort to protect the campus brand. UCSD admin should meet with student groups now and begin to support a variety of media platforms–newspapers, podcasts, radio–by locating campus space as well as funding internships and production resources.