The UCSD Guardian View on A.S. Defunding: Student Media or Nah

In light of recent events occurring within A.S. Council, the Guardian’s Editorial Board questions the political thought process (or lack thereof) that led to the defunding of all student media organizations on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Although A.S. Council members voted to remove financial support for all media organizations — not for just a single entity — the move came at a time dubiously close to a statement sent out by UCSD administrators regarding The Koala. Timing was not the only suspicious aspect of the decision; the slight amount of time between the proposal and the roll call vote is extremely concerning. While some may laud Council’s efficiency, we feel that the decision was inappropriately rushed. The student government not only extinguished the possibility of public input but failed to perform its due diligence by not consulting those whom would be affected by the vote. The very minimum A.S. Council could have done was give appropriate time for councilmembers to contemplate the consequences of the vote and for students to become aware of its implications.

A.S. Council voting to defund student media is one story, but not communicating with the primary actors affected is a whole other. Even if A.S. Council had previously discussed defunding student media, were these discussions held in the Forum for the public to hear? Or did they happen behind closed doors for the ears of the privileged? A.S. Council should not have taken unilateral strides in defunding The Fashion Quarterly, The Koala, The Muir Quarterly, The Saltman Quarterly and the Undergraduate Research Journal without giving prior notice to these publications and providing proper avenues to advocate for themselves. Sure, A.S. Council meetings are open to the public and the public is welcome to sit in, but it shouldn’t be expected that the public — or these publications — attend every meeting on the off chance that they will lose some sort of funding. It seems like the student government pulled a fast one on student publications, but we’re still waiting for the punchline.

Rather than taking political action first and expressing interest in financial rectitude afterward, Council should have taken a step back from the situation to examine all possible outcomes before moving forward. If Council is going to do something that directly affects a particular group of students, it should try making a more active and unabashed attempt to contact said group of students. What Council should not do is make hasty decisions and then let  “the adults” clean up the mess; namely, letting academic media funding obligations go to the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. The Office of the VCSA should not be the rich parent to its asinine children. Regardless of whether or not A.S. Council had even considered tapping into the Office of the VCSA for alternate funding, the lack of transparency during the vote would suggest the process was ill-conceived and done as a matter of damage control. If Council had worked out an actual plan of action with the Office of the VCSA before taking foolhardy steps, then it would have saved slightly more face. At the very least, its brazen vote would have been less inflammatory if there had been transparent and secure alternate funding sources for these publications. A.S. Council may have gotten off lightly thanks to the Office of the VCSA demi-deus ex machina, but they should make note that these mishaps are taken seriously.

Associated Students — include the “students” next time. Don’t let the rest of UCSD start to believe that this is politics as usual for A.S. Council. By any measure, it seems like it might already be.