Khanna Takes Admin’s Cable Policy in Stride

    While A.S. Council President Harry Khanna assured compliance with the newly approved document governing Triton Cable stations — following months of negotiations between Khanna and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff to ease content restrictions — the student leader admitted he is bitter over administrator’s formalized stance on indecent programming.

    In the cable network’s new acceptable use policy, the university prohibits the use of profanity between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. and, against Khanna’s recommendations, indecent images including “intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus or masturbation.”

    The policy’s establishment comes after John Muir College alumnus Steve York — former editor of the satirical Koala that publishes, among other things, sexual material — broadcast multiple episodes of pornography on Student-Run Television in which he had sexual intercourse with an adult film star. After the airing, administrators demanded a concrete definition of permissible content on SRTV and the wider Triton Cable network.

    “[The original policy] did not include supporting details to clarify the term [that prohibits sexual content],” Ratcliff stated in an e-mail.  

    Station officials admitted that the previous station charter contained broad wording that allowed York’s airing, but opposed the AUP’s revised definition. Despite protests from Khanna and former SRTV co-Manager Andrew Tess, Ratcliff sent the document to UC system lawyers for approval last academic year.

    A.S. councilmembers were hopeful that UC officials would overhaul the AUP, but the document returned over the summer without major revisions.

    “[The UC Office of General Counsel] focused its attention on developing an appendix to the policy that consisted of Federal Communications Commission guidelines to station programmers on how to ensure that no obscene or indecent material or language is improperly aired,” Ratcliff stated.

    Following systemwide approval, campus administrators made final, albeit minor, changes, including the pathway by which station complaints would be resolved. In its original draft, the AUP directed all control-of-broadcast complaints to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson.

    To streamline the grievance process, the final policy directs complaints to the Administrative Computing and Telecommunications department, headed by Elazar C. Harel.

    “Since the Triton Cable Network is a university resource administered by Administrative Computing and Telecommunications, complaints should be addressed to this department,” Ratcliff stated.

    Khanna also said he was happy with the change, because it took oversight of the station away from administrators that aligned against the council and SRTV last year.

    “Based on the position, the A.C.T. department is [a] more logical place to go with complaints,” Khanna said. “If they went to Student Affairs or Student Life divisions, which have had history with this SRTV issue, then the rules would be obviously geared toward SRTV and not the whole network.”

    Student leaders are especially relieved that the new AUP retracts a clause that would have allowed Watson to cut network access at any time.

    The current rules possess a similar passage, but do not specify an administrator in charge of the station, stating, “The university reserves the right to disable access to the Triton Cable Network without notice to halt or prevent suspected violations of this policy.”

    However, Khanna said he was extremely disappointed with the document’s provisions regarding profanity.

    “The final AUP is better than the first draft, but it is still bad,” he said. “It’s obvious, especially with their decision to regulate profanity, that administrators are insistent on treating campus departments like little kids.”

    Although student leaders are unhappy with the amount of control administrators have over SRTV and Triton Cable, Khanna said A.S. councilmembers have no plans to formally dispute the issue.

    “Unfortunately, this is campus policy,” he said. “We have to comply with it and at this point, we just want the station back.”

    With the graduation of Tess, who was the only party that threatened legal action last year, Khanna said he expects “the SRTV drama to be near to a close.”

    The final document, however, is indicative of administrators’ position on student power, according to Khanna.

    A.S. councilmembers had contested that administrators had no jurisdiction over the content of SRTV, which pulls its budget from the student-funded A.S. Council.

    “I think this whole event brings to light the total lack of control students have over their own school,” he said. “Hopefully it will inspire students to fight for things that they own.”

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