Free speech survives at UCSD–but not without a fight

20 03 2010

Funding for student media organizations at UC San Diego has been restored…for now.

In a meeting Mar. 11, the Associated Students council let lapse the student media funding freeze initiated by A.S. President Utsav Gupta Feb. 19.

They then rejected an amendment by A.S. Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch which would have moved funding to a government-speech model.

“Essentially, this idea supposes that we will close the open forum where everyone can come and ask for money and we have to distribute in a viewpoint-neutral manner, and move to a model where the A.S. will have to provide a large amount of funding through advertising initiatives,” Benesch said.

Apparently, the whole viewpoint-neutral concept is appalling, even to UC Student Regent Jesse Cheng.

“We stand for this protocol because this issue is an issue of diversity and not really an issue of free speech and even less an issue of the Constitution,” Cheng said. “If it does come down to legality, it’s the Supreme Court’s responsibility to constitutionality — you don’t have to worry about that here.”

Methinks you’re missing the point.

Gupta says that it was a safe amendment because the council is moderate and would continue to fund student media.  But what if you end up with a liberal (or progressive, if you prefer) council?  Would they fund conservative student media?

By the same token, would a hard right-wing council want to fund radical publications?

There’s a reason the selection process is viewpoint-neutral.  It’s to allow those–even those whose opinions might be offensive–to be heard.

Democracy demands no less.

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