The UCSD administration was recently defeated
July 1, 2002 12:13 AM   Subscribe

The UCSD administration was recently defeated by The Koala, a student satire publication that it attempted to shut down. Said an administrator: "We condemn the Koala's abuse of the constitutional guarantees of free expression and disfavor their unconscionable behavior." The paper's staffers have now sold their blood plasma to raise money for a lawyer to file a countersuit against the administration. Good to see that free speech is alive and well on college campuses, this school's administration to the contrary. And its always good to see an active college humor magazine.
posted by gsteff (6 comments total)
an alternative paper on the UNM campus (called the daily lobotomy, after the newspaper's daily lobo) gets funding from the student government. i think it's great.
posted by sugarfish at 12:42 AM on July 1, 2002

This isn't necessarily a clear-cut restriction of free speech by the administration, yet the UPI article is really biased towards the supposed underdog. (Standard disclaimer here; I've just finished my second year at UCSD, and I serve on the editorial board of a separate humor publication. I don't think this has really biased my opinions, but one never knows.)

First, it really should be said that the majority of students do not consider the Koala, at least in my experience, as a satirical publication. The purpose of satire as I understand it is to expose some flaw or problem with an aspect of society. The Koala, however, has traditionally aimed for sheer shock value. Most of their humor is fairly crude and immature - I think that rooting through their archives would kind of illustrate this.

The situation with Martinez has its roots in the previous October. The Koala published an issue that contained some slurs and offensive references to various groups on campus. In the issue, for example, they advertised a fake frat called Chi Kappa Alpha, or "The Chikes." They'd previously published fake advertisements and articles condoning and advocating date rape. Naturally enough, some people were pissed. There was controversy among the student population, with many angered by the fact that student funds were paying for a publication that regularly attacked people through slur and slander.

The Koala had also previously attempted to secure funds for what amounted to a road trip throughout California. It was claimed that the cash would be used to attend humor conferences, but no such humor conferences were scheduled. There was also an email sent out to Koala staffers essentially confirming that the plan was to go on a road trip and get piss drunk. The funds were denied. The Koala claimed it was done to punish them for the earlier controversy concerning their content. (To my knowledge there isn't a copy of this email online, but I know people who were on the mailing list and received it.) Then of course, there's the issue discussed in the article concerning Martinez and the accused distruption of the MEChA meeting.

The Koala still maintains that this boils down to an issue of free speech, while the administration states that their actions have nothing to do with content. After all, they say, according to bylaw funding cannot be allocated based on content. It becomes a case of whom you choose to believe. Personally I think both sides have gone overboard, but The Koala has been pushing it, basically amping up their offensiveness in response to all allegations. They began to republish their most offensive articles and ads, and increased personal attacks on individuals involved with the student government.

This is all from memory, so I might've gotten some details wrong or forgotten parts of it. It's interesting to note, though, that The Koala has within the past week been disrupting the orientation sessions of incoming students. These orientation sessions are closed sessions, yet staffers from The Koala were still intentionally disrupting planned activities and information sessions. They've been disrupting or obstructing a university activity to the detriment of other students, something they claim to never actually have done.

Hopefully, this will all still be coherent in the morning...
posted by truex at 4:03 AM on July 1, 2002

Heck, when I was an editor of the humor magazine at my university (the now-defunct "Rubber Teeth" at Northwestern University in the mid-1980s), we spent our money on stuff like Big Wheels and hiring a know, funny stuff.
posted by briank at 6:28 AM on July 1, 2002

Cal Poly Pomona had LoW Magazine. Great stuff, and some actual journalism in there, as opposed to the dead-as-plywood official paper (whose name I can't even remember). LoW worked the way the LA Weekly or New Times did: a free mag paid for by the porno and head shops who advertised in it. They had an interview with Tim Leary before he died, plus stories about swingers in the Pomona Valley, and about a guy who fucked a horse, backed up by the police blotter.

Ah...great days.
posted by RakDaddy at 10:47 AM on July 1, 2002

"abuse of the constitutional guarantees of free expression"

So free speech is great, as long as you don't say anything we don't like --- then its abusive.

A publication I was involved with at my former university ran into something similar for printing a two-page comic spread (1 2 3 4) critical of the university's favorite benefaktor. Student government threatened to yank our funding, but woke-up after a local alternative weekly offered to run the comic if we couldn't afford to print the issue.
posted by nathan_teske at 4:36 PM on July 1, 2002

So free speech is great, as long as you don't say anything we don't like --- then its abusive.

There are a large number of campus publications funded by the student government at UCSD. Many of these are more critical of the administration and more harsh towards policy than The Koala ever was. Has the administration ever brought these other groups to trial in order to oust them? Not that I can recall, or that I've ever heard tell of. Maybe the trial was a sham, I don't know. The only people who would know for sure are those involved, and they aren't going to agree anytime soon. Does this mean that the university is just trying to silence views they don't like, however? No. If that were the case, they'd be attacking nearly every other student-run publication as well.

Look at it this way. If somebody stands on the front steps of city hall and criticises or condemns the politicians inside, more power to them. If another person stands on those same steps and instead hurls a string or racial epithets and perverted sexual slander, is it still to be tolerated?
posted by truex at 5:12 PM on July 1, 2002

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