Koala accused

Some students and groups have condemned The Koala for running what they call racist mock advertisements and personal ads in its first issue of the school year.

Within the “”Forum on the Greek System”” section of the Sept. 24 issue, an announcement informed readers of a fictitious fraternity named Chi Kappa Alpha, nicknamed “”The Chikes.””

The issue also included two personal ads containing anti-Asian messages. One read, “”To all the Asians: Nobody likes you, good day,”” while another suggested that an option should be added to housing forms to exclude Asians.

Revelle Junior Senator David Cohen complained to the A.S. Council about the issue’s content.

“”I don’t believe that ‘free speech’ equals a derogatory reference to the Jewish or any kind of bigotry toward Asians or any other ethnic or religious group,”” Cohen stated in a letter to the council. “”That is not free speech; it is hate speech, and it should not be found anywhere on the UCSD campus.””

Koala editor George Liddle was unavailable for comment on the matter.

Cohen and A.S. President Jeff Dodge organized a meeting of Koala staff members, Union of Jewish Students President David Weisberg, Alpha Epsilon Pi President Lance Miller, A.S. Commissioner of Communications Catherine Algeri, Student Organization and Leadership Office liaison to the Koala Paul Dewine, and members of the Student Affirmative Action Coalition.

At the meeting, there was discussion about whether Koala funding could be cut because of recent incidents.

A formal complaint was filed against The Koala at a council meeting on Sept. 26, alleging that slanderous comments about Muir Quarterly staff were printed in June 2001. This latest controversy further strains the publication’s relationship with the A.S. Council and student groups.

However, the A.S. Media Charter, last amended in March 1998, states that “”the ASUCSD shall not engage in the regulation of the content of publications of Media in any manner. All responsibility for the content of the publications of Media is with the members of the respective Media.””

“”A lot of people assume the A.S. Council has the power to control what is printed in our publications,”” Algeri said.

She also said that many individuals and groups have recently approached her to request that the A.S. Council discontinue funding for The Koala.

“”We allocate funding on a content-neutral basis,”” Algeri said.

Algeri said that if the policy was not content-neutral, the A.S. Council would be held legally responsible for everything and anything printed with A.S. funds.

The A.S. Council’s decision incited frustration among students, especially after a campuswide anti-hate resolution was passed unanimously Sept. 26.

“”I feel like my hands are tied behind my back and someone is hitting me in the face,”” Cohen said. “”The university policies that were designed to protect students now stand against them.””

Algeri noted that UCSD is among the few schools that still sponsor media with student funds. Many institutions, she added, have dropped funding for publications because of instances similar to the Koala scenario.

A disclaimer on The Koala emphasizes that it runs controversial material because of its shock effect and that this is what makes the paper so popular with its readers.

Meanwhile, the Student Affirmative Action Coalition has been working on organizing a periodical according to Algeri. It would counteract what Algeri calls a “”dominant view”” conveyed by The Koala, which is the most widely read A.S. Council-funded publication on campus.

“”Many have not been receptive to the views expressed by The Koala,”” Algeri said.

The new publication is in the works and would feature diversity-related articles that, according to Cohen, would benefit students in their education of unity and tolerance.

“”We should celebrate our cultural heritage rather than live uncomfortably because of it,”” Cohen said. “”When I arrived at UCSD, I felt comfortable and respected for my ethnic background and religious heritage. The primary reason I joined A.S. was to keep that feeling alive for other students.””

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