In Year’s Final Meeting, Council Discusses Current Free-Speech Issues

    The A.S. Council met last night for its final meeting before
    summer vacation, although the rainy weather outside did not fit the occasion.
    Councilmembers considered a handful of long-term issues, all of which will
    still be waiting for them come September.

    Tara Ramanathan and Carol-Irene Southworth, student
    representatives from a subcommittee to review the campus free-speech policy,
    spoke during public input. Administrators at UCSD made a failed attempt last
    year to impose new speech restrictions on students, faculty and nonaffiliates.
    In the fallout, Ramanathan and Southworth have worked with other committee
    members to formulate an alternative policy proposal.

    The two representatives have periodically visited meetings
    to keep councilmembers updated, but last night they indicated that a new policy
    proposal from the University of California
    Office
    of the President could severely compromise
    the progress they’ve made so far.

    “We think that that they’re very dangerous to first
    amendment rights,” Southworth said of the proposed policy’s restrictions.
    Southworth said that the proposal would give the university the power to
    require prior approval before nonaffiliates hold demonstrations, teach-ins or
    instructional rallies on university property. As a systemwide UCOP policy it
    would also override campus-level efforts to maintain a more liberal free-speech
    policy.

    Ramanathan said that she hopes UCOP will postpone a vote on
    the policy until the fall instead of addressing it during the summer months.
    Were that to be the case, UCSD would return from vacation with two free-speech
    policies to juggle since the development of the campus proposal has not
    proceeded as quickly as originally planned.

    “We don’t want to put our names on something that we’re not
    entirely comfortable with,” said Southworth of the campus policy proposal.

    Next on the list of revisions was the 2009 Sun God Festival.
    Associate Vice President of Programming Garrett Berg reported that “around 20
    students” in addition to A.S. councilmembers attended a public forum earlier in
    the day about next year’s festival.

    “We got a lot of feedback and it wasn’t a lot of personal
    attacks, so that was good,” Berg said, alluding to Facebook comments that have
    sharply criticized his office’s planning of last year’s festival and the
    council’s subsequent appointment of Berg. He said that there will be another
    forum in the fall to solicit more student feedback.

    Associate Vice President of Athletic Relations Peter Benesch
    also referenced Sun God, saying that next quarter will give the council an
    opportunity to “dispel the myth that all A.S. does is just Sun God.” Benesch
    urged the council to utilize events held during welcome week and the first week
    of instruction to improve A.S. visibility.

    “The blue shirts must be present,” he said, referring to the
    navy-blue polos that councilmembers receive.

    And so the council adjourned last night, leaving plenty on
    its student government plate. Sun God, free speech, and A.S. visibility will
    sit under the heat lamps over the summer, alongside many other delicious
    issues, from tuition fees to organization funding to student representation.

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