UCSD is ‘silencing voices they don’t want to hear,’ Koala editor says
The University of California-San Diego has made plain where its values lie: in favor of a failing Marxist-inspired cafe and against an “offensive and hurtful” student tabloid.
Just hours after high-ranking UCSD officials released a statement condemning The Koala, a student-funded publication with a penchant for profanity and pornography, the student government voted to defund all student-funded media.
The editor of The Koala told The College Fix the school was betraying its own values as a “world-class university” and that he was pursuing “legal means” to overturn the defunding vote.
In a statement signed by Chancellor Pradeep Khosla and other vice chancellors, the administration wrote Nov. 18 that The Koala is “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel.”
Noting the administration doesn’t fund The Koala, the statement called on the UCSD community to “join us in condemning this publication and other hurtful acts.”
The administration didn’t respond to a Fix inquiry about the timing of its statement. The last print run of The Koala, which referred to the chancellor as “Ballsdeep Pradeep,” was more than two weeks ago, though it published a blog post Nov. 16 that mocked safe spaces and used the N-word repeatedly.
One of the signatories, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Juan Gonzalez, read the statement at the start of the student government meeting the same night, The Guardian campus newspaper reported.
The constitutional amendment to remove student-fee funding from all student publications was submitted by Daniel Juarez, assistant vice president of equity, diversity and inclusion. It passed 22-3-0.
Those affected include another satirical publication, The Muir Quarterly, as well as The Progressive and the Saltman Quarterly, a science newsletter, though the latter two did not receive any funding this term. The Guardian is not affected because it doesn’t take student funding.
Muir’s editor-in-chief, Andrew Deneris, told The Guardian that the student publications were blindsided by the sudden defunding. He said the answer to offensive speech was not “less speech and less media.”
The student government will divert the approximately $15,000 per year that went toward campus publications toward projects such as housing, The Guardian said.
Funding is not ‘the real issue here’
The Koala’s tagline, “The Worst in Collegiate Journalism Since 1982,” gives readers an idea of what to expect, as does its budget request for this term: $696,969.69.
One recent post on its website, which meets any definition of “not safe for work,” is titled “UCSD Unveils New Dangerous Space on Campus.” After the administration statement, The Koala published a crude imagined email chain among Khosla and vice chancellors.
Its latest issue is even more graphic and includes an invented list of “Executed Oregon Students” on the editorial masthead.
Gabe Cohen, The Koala’s editor-in-chief, told The Fix in an email that “funding is not our main concern, and isn’t the real issue here.”
Indeed, The Koala said on its Facebook page Friday that it raised $1,000 in less than 24 hours following the defunding vote. It had been allotted just $634 by the student government for this term.
UCSD is “silencing voices they don’t want to hear,” Cohen told The Fix, blaming “political correctness” on campus: “It stifles valuable voices in fear of harming the feelings of students. Students should not be ‘kept safe’ from hurt feelings.”
He continued: “Discussion is always constructive, censorship never is.”
The Koala has reached out to the other defunded publications with the goal of putting up a united front, Cohen said. It has “been in touch” with the ACLU and Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, “and have sought other legal means,” he said.
“We plan on exhausting each and every option at our disposal to inform the university their decision is wrong, and probably illegal.”
‘Student funds should not support a cause that makes community members feel unsafe’
The head of student government said the defunding vote was not about content, but funding priorities.
The student government “decided to discontinue print media funding as it was determined that there were other areas of campus that could better benefit from the limited resources of the Associated Students,” President Dominick Suvonnasupa told The Fix in an email.
“All campus media organizations have received suggestions of on [sic] alternative funding sources,” he said.
According to The Guardian’s narrative of the student government meeting, Charlotte Lu, a sophomore at USCD’s Thurgood Marshall College, urged the “Council to defund the [Koala] on the grounds that student funds should not support a cause that makes community members feel unsafe.”
This is not the first time UCSD’s student government has attempted to defund The Koala.
In early 2010, after working with then-Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and the Black Student Union, the student government froze funding for all student-funded publications, including The Koala, The Guardian reported then.
According to the student body president at the time, Utsav Gupta: “I think it’s obvious why we froze the funds. There were a lot of students who were angry” at The Koala. One official called it hate speech.
While the student government ponders the best use of the now-available $15,000, the UCSD administration had pledged $700,000 to bail out the student-run Che Cafe Collective, as The Fix reported last week.
IMAGE: The Koala screenshot