These Decoys Won’t Slip Under the Radar

After last year’s media debacle — which included a funding freeze on the part of then-A.S. President Utsav Gupta and outrage on the part of student publications — ended in nothing but a self-funded issue on the part of the  Koala, you’d think the message is loud and clear: If council could have legally defunded the Koala, they probably would have.
But, in a haphazard scheme to try, try again, Sixth College junior Cody Marshall  has proposed a foolproof scheme. Through an e-mail sent to the Students Affirmative Action Committee, Marshall outlined a simple plan for ridding our campus of anal pleasure guides once and for all. Too bad it was more likely to rid our campus of alternative voices.

It goes like this: Having exhausted all other options — discarded last year mostly for their blatant violations of the First Amendment — Marshall now advocates an overload of A.S. media funding reserves until the flustered VP Finance and Resources (that’s you, Andrew Ang) has no choice but to pick and choose which student publications get the money, and which get left out in the cold.

Currently, the council — which allocated a total of $25,784.93 between 11 media organizations for Fall Quarter — chooses how much to give depending on the publications’ operating costs. As Ang himself said, they have a plethora of ways to say yes, and no way to say no.

Playing upon this protocol with the disturbing battle cry of “we are going to break their backs!”, the e-mail asked fellow Koala objectors to join together and create more than 100 media organizations. These organizations only require four members for approval, leading to a plea for members to sign up for these dummy orgs. Rest assured, the e-mail read, people do not have to produce actual media for which they would supposedly be funded — they need only a PID to do their part in destroying UCSD’s most controversial publication.

So far, at least 89 media organizations — including ones named The Independent, The Examiner, The Free Press, The Gazette, The Guide and The Islander — have been formed, and all are comprised of the same sad members: Marshall, Gupta and former Warren College Senator and Vice President of Finance candidate Josh Grossman.

Ironically enough, many of these publications declare in their mission statements that they are “a media organization that seeks to publish regularly each quarter and enjoy our freedom of expression.” The fact that they were created purely to limit others’ freedom of expression seems to be lost on their founders.

Let’s set aside the obvious problems of fraud and misuse of funds that this plan entails and address the idea itself.

This is a plan of Pinky-and-the-Brain proportions, and one that is guaranteed to fail simply because that A.S. Council is not that dumb. They, too, were here last year when the words “viewpoint neutrality” were thrown around and the ACLU was getting ready to knock on the doors of that fourth floor meeting room.

Thankfully, this proposal won’t actally leech money away from the Mania Magazine’s next installment of poetry. Associate Vice President of Student Orgs Carli Thomas has already been reworking the once-vague media guidelines, putting in caps to avoid overallocation and making sure that the A.S. piggy bank won’t be blindly throwing money at 89 outstretched hands.

But had Marshall’s brainchild gone according to plan, it wouldn’t have forced council to “pick and choose” who gets funding in a game of A.S. favorites that somehow skirts the First Amendment. At worst, the 89 orgs might have ended receiving the money, dealing a huge blow to future student publications who actually have something to say. The Koala isn’t worth that.

Instead of having the luxury of publishing three times a quarter, those who want to publish a creative magazine or a libertarian newsletter may have been forced to make do with what meager funds were left. Under this plan, it would be harder for diverse viewpoints to make their voices heard in the future.

This is using free speech to stifle others’ free speech; even at their most dastardly, the Koala never did anything that depraved.

No matter how big of a controversial attention whore the Koala is, and despite the way its members use it to justify their presumptuous debauchery, they still have freedom of expression. It’s understood that until the day the Koala no longer attracts that small, twisted part of the student body to its staff, it will remain a part of UCSD. So will the the First Amendment.

Having just taken a 8 percent budget cut (more or less) across the board — some of which was distributed across media funding — A.S. Council is in no mood to be throwing money around.

The issue isn’t going to come up again until Week Seven. When it does, you can bet that the Koala will emerge unscathed. Had Marshall’s plan worked, however, future generations of opinionated students might not have fared so well.

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