Editorial: UCSD Administrators' Waffle of Mass Distraction

Step one: Determine the course of action. Step two: Find a reason to justify it. Step three: When the previous reason no longer makes sense, find a new one.

That formula is familiar enough, but we might not expect it in the context of a campus debate over porn on Student-Run Television. Yet it is exactly the formulation campus administrators have used to keep SRTV off the air for months.

Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff offered many successive reasons for keeping SRTV black after the fiasco. The first was that the university could not make itself liable for potential violence outside of the station.

Ratcliff pulled out police reports suggesting a pattern of nefarious activity at the station. With the reports now largely discredited, administrators are now arguing that the issue is one of control over access to Triton Cable.

But e-mails between Ratcliff and other top administrators indicate that this is not the case: In the days immediately after the SRTV porn broadcasts, the administration’s first reaction was to shut down the station’s Webcast and server — run by an entity separate from the cable operator. If Triton Cable control were the key issue, SRTV’s Web site would be up today, and streaming content via the Internet.

The truth is, the debate over SRTV is a conflict over clashing sexual mores and views on decency and decorum.

It will not be settled by administrative edicts, no matter how hard the administration may try.

Until all sides in the debate come to terms with this, they will not be able to find agreement on an exit strategy to the conflict.