Publications discuss humor and free speech

    The A.S. Council held a roundtable discussion Monday to promote student dialogue about humor, responsibility, the media and the implications of the First Amendment in relation to campus publications.

    The students attending the forum were divided into small groups to discuss the subjects in a more personal atmosphere.

    “”I think it’s important to have a discussion like this happen,”” said Catherine Algeri, the current A.S. commissioner of communications. “”It’s also important for A.S. to be proactive rather than just reactive.””

    Matters such as particular UCSD publications, A.S. funding and sponsorship, the impact of these publications on the community, and freedom of speech were all discussed.

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    Tarleton Gillespie, a UCSD professor of communications who has taught a class called “”Laws of Communication and Freedom of Expression,”” was a featured member at the discussion.

    “”Freedom of speech is often thought of as allowing everyone to speak,”” Gillespie said. “”However, some speech can get in the way of other speech.””

    Algeri said that the A.S. Council funds campus publications but does not necessarily agree with what they say.

    “”We are trying to do our best,”” Algeri said of A.S. council sponsorship and financial backing of campus publications. “”Freedom of speech means all speech. However, it’s not that we personally support all forms of speech.””

    Gillespie talked about an instance when he read a recent issue of the Koala.

    “”I don’t consider myself a person who is easily offended,”” Gillespie said in the beginning of the forum. “”Yet when I read a recent issue of the Koala, there were moments when I actually had a visceral reaction … ‘I can’t believe that I’m reading this,’ I thought. I can think of theoretical justifications for this type of speech … yet I myself do not like to read it.””

    Algeri said the California Review, a conservative campus newspaper, initiated a lawsuit against UCSD in the 1980s, claiming the campus was biased in its funding of the paper. From then on, it was determined that A.S. funding for publications should be content-neutral.

    Recently elected A.S. President Jenn Brown said she came to the forum to discuss the power that media has on campus.

    “”Once there was a picture of me in the Guardian with the caption, ‘Smile pretty,”” said Brown. “”If I had been a guy, they wouldn’t have written that … There’s small things people aren’t aware enough of that matter in the long run.””

    Muir junior Stephen Klass also felt that certain publications don’t make enough attempts to be unbiased.

    “”Many don’t realize how much campus media affects people,”” Klass said. “”It’s like even those who write [for campus publications] don’t notice the effect.””

    George Liddle, editor in chief of the Koala, also attended the forum. Liddle felt strongly about the alleged objectivity sought by many publications.

    “”What is the actual value of objectivity?”” Liddle said. “”Because, A: You’re not [objective]; nobody is. And B: Is objectivity actually something to strive for? Any publication is trying to hit a target audience, which, in itself, is subjective.””

    Eric Eveskaas, a Warren junior and writer for “”Nightcap”” magazine, also provided insight on the issue.

    “”Freedom of speech isn’t really the issue,”” he said. No one will deny that right. The issue is whether [controversial publications] can use other students’ money to make that same speech. If they wanted to fund it themselves and get advertisers, no one can deny them the right to say what they wanted.””

    Algeri outlined the factors the A.S. Council considers in funding a campus publication.

    “”The level of A.S. funding for a publication is determined by factors such as how consistently the paper is published, how long it has been running and whether they follow the rules,”” Algeri said. “”I had to work hard to make sure the funding was consistent.””

    Gillespie recognized the fact that there are many who feel controversial campus publications, specifically the Koala, should not be funded with student money.

    “”Cutting funding is the easy way out,”” Gillespie said. “”There is a kind of frustration in a structure [such as UCSD] where there is little room for students to speak. In that kind of journalism, students feel the need to demolish something in order to be heard.””

    Gillespie offered a solution: “”Rather than passing a law or cutting funding, why not fix the campus and make it into a place people don’t want to harm? Because [then] they feel that they belong.””

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