Campus launches SRTV inquiry

    Campus administrators have ordered investigations into the legality of a Student-Run Television broadcast of a video showing sexual acts performed by Koala Editor and A.S. Elections Manager Steve York.

    Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Carmen Vazquez will spearhead the inquiries, at the request of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson. Last week, Vazquez asked campus counsel to examine if the broadcast abided by policies within the station’s charter, Federal Communications Commission regulations and campus policies, she said. Vazquez said she expects to have answers from the attorney as early as this week.

    Until the investigation is completed, no further action will be taken, Watson said.

    “We want to do this objectively,” he said. “Once we have all the facts, then we will know what to do from there.”

    The Feb. 3 “Koala TV” broadcast on SRTV included acts of oral sex and ejaculation by York, a John Muir College senior, and an unidentified woman.

    The Koala, a controversial campus publication, has previously clashed with university officials over its content.

    “While we were hesitant to welcome the Koala when they approached us last quarter about having their own show, SRTV could not discriminate [against] them for their past behavior,” station manager Chelsea Welch stated in a Feb. 22 e-mail sent out to the student body. “When it comes to students’ shows, I have to stay content-neutral.”

    In an e-mail to the Guardian, York stated that his broadcast was meant to support free speech rights and that he invites any challenge from the school administration.

    “I’ve been put into a position to advocate for free speech issues and it’s great that the tool for them has been my penis,” he stated.

    As a closed-circuit station, SRTV is not bound by FCC operating regulations. York’s broadcast was in accordance with SRTV standards, according to Welch. Obscene material without copyrights may be broadcast between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., she said. However, the station’s charter requires that the content offer an “artistic medium within the context of FCC rules and regulations governing on-air conduct and the operation of a closed-circuit television station.”

    SRTV is funded by self-assessed student activity fees allocated by Associated Students. As of last week, A.S. President Jenn Pae said she had not heard any student complaints about York’s broadcast.

    Since the station is completely student-run, any UCSD student has the right to produce his or her own material if unsatisfied with the use of student fees, A.S. Commissioner of Student Services Kian Maleki said.

    “If certain groups of people aren’t happy with the content that is being aired, they are free to attend SRTV meetings at 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and produce their own,” he said.

    Under UC-wide administrative policies, student governments must provide financial support for student activities and organizations “on a viewpoint-neutral basis.”

    However, the same section in the regulations allows the chancellor of each campus to “discontinue recognition of student governmental entities as official student governments.”

    Though no decision on action has been made, the connections between Associated Students and the Koala, as well as York’s latest “Koala TV” broadcast, have exposed a problem that has dismayed the administration, Watson said.

    “This is a matter for the students to address, but I would be less than honest if I did not express my disappointment in such an approach to things by A.S.,” he said. “I think we have great concerns with the editor of the Koala being appointed A.S. elections manager. I view it as the A.S. endorsing the Koala and what it has done and stands for.”

    Pae said York’s work with the A.S. Council is completely separate from his other activities.

    “Although Steve York has multiple roles on campus, it has been made clear that his role on A.S. should be taken seriously,” she said.

    The controversial broadcast is only the first in a series of sexually explicit acts to be aired on “Koala TV,” York said. Because the Feb. 3 broadcast is still under review, any other broadcasts that may air on the station in the meantime will be dealt with separately, according to Vazquez.

    “We’re going deal with each situation as it arises,” she said. “Because SRTV is student run, I encourage students to voice any concerns they have to their student government.”

    With York’s next broadcast planned for March, SRTV is soliciting student opinions on the pornographic broadcast, Welch stated.

    “If enough students did not want to see Steve York’s next film that he plans to bring out in March — and they voiced this to SRTV — it will not be shown,” she stated. “However, if enough students told SRTV they did want to see it, SRTV will show it.”

    The issue has also gained national media attention, with appearances by York and Welch on several cable news networks. In York’s Feb. 22 interview on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” host Bill O’Reilly criticized the decision to air the video.

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