Students Mum Over Proposed TV Rules

Students made little fuss about the first “acceptable use” policy draft for Triton Cable, which would bar campus entities from broadcasting several forms of nudity and profanity as well as put control of the network largely in the hands of the administration.

Billy Wong/Guardian
SRTV co-Manager Andrew Tess’ station will remain off-air, while administrators mull regulations to be applied to the station’s cable network.

The policy, written in March, was considered tentative for a month, while the Student Affairs department collected comments from faculty, students and staff. By the early April deadline, acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff had received only four comments from students. The majority of respondents found the regulations ludicrous, and considered the creation of the document to be an extreme reaction to broadcasts of pornography on Student-Run Television.

After A.S. councilmembers shut off SRTV in November — to ensure there would be no more indecent programming — administrators refused requests from A.S. President Christopher Sweeten to reactivate the station. Since then, the administrators have prevented the station from returning on-air. In its current version, the AUP would continue that trend, requiring campus departments violating policy to notify administrators of their breach and possible sanctions.

“Within five calendar days of this notice, the campus department must reply in writing and identify the actions it will take to prevent recurrence of the violation,” Ratcliff stated in an e-mail to A.S. Commissioner of Communications Soap Chum, who oversees the station for the A.S. Council.

The original draft of the AUP put sole control of the policy’s enforcement in the hands of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson. The lack of student control over campus broadcasts was the focus of much of the student input, including in comments made by A.S. President-elect Harry Khanna.

“Having one administrator as the judge, jury and executioner runs against what we want and have expressed as students and a student government,” Khanna said.

Earlier this year, students voted in a special election to allow pornographic broadcasts on SRTV. The rules are the latest examples of administration’s indifference toward student opinion, according to Revelle College Senior Senator Rachel Corell, who also submitted a comment. Corell, Khanna, other councilmembers and station co-Manager Andrew Tess drafted a new version of the station’s charter in February, which did not prohibit nudity or profanity.

Corell said she had serious reservations with the initial draft, especially in the document’s wording that prohibited broadcast of “highly offensive” words — including “the F-word” — between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

“The F-word?” she said. “The document sounds like it was written for children.”

Ratcliff responded that the university holds SRTV, which he labeled a “campus department,” to a higher standard than the cable channels that broadcast profanity on Triton Cable.

“Campus stations are a training ground for future broadcast professionals,” he stated in an e-mail. “It is the expectation of the university that campus departments broadcasting on the Triton Cable network comply with current FCC regulations.”

Corell also said she was worried about the lack of student input regarding the policy. Only two students outside of the A.S. Council responded to Ratcliff’s call for comments, which could weaken students’ chances to regain power over the station, Corell said.

“I expected way more say from students, and its even more disappointing that hardly any A.S. councilmembers voiced their input,” she said. “But, at the same time, I feel that our administrators don’t give a shit about students’ opinions anyway. After all, [Ratcliff] didn’t listen to students in the special election.”

However, Khanna attributed the dearth of input to a lack of student knowledge of the nuances of Triton Cable.

In addition, two university employees responded with comments, but expressed no qualms about the proposed policy.

“Academic Affairs has no concerns with the proposed policy insofar as it would have a negative impact upon the education mission of the campus,” Associate Vice Chancellor of Undergraduate Education Mark I. Appelbaum stated in his comment.