Petition drive aims to stop UCSD funding of alt student paper

Group: The Koala linked to controversial party


City News Service

A move was afoot at UC San Diego on Monday to ban campus funding for an alternative student newspaper for its perceived connection to a controversial off-campus party that has inflamed racial concerns at the university.

A 20-year-old female senior named Shokufeh N., who cited safety concerns in declining to give her last name, was one of two students collecting petition signatures near the Price Center in the middle of campus.

The Koala receives $3,000 per quarter from the school to print “garbage,” the biology major charged. The funding amounts to 20 cents per student per quarter of tuition, she said.

“We have to pay for this, but we don’t want to pay for this,” Shokufeh said.

The Koala is a student-run newspaper and funding decisions are made through the student governing body called Associated Students, according to a UCSD spokeswoman.

According to a Web site set up by Associated Students, called “Join the Battle Against Hate,” a review of media funding is under way.

Utsav Gupta, president of Associated Students, is assembling a committee to review policies and procedures regarding the use of student fees for media, according to a statement he posted on the Web site.

Racial concerns on campus stemmed from a party a week ago tonight that allegedly mocked Black History Month. Called the “Compton Cookout,” attendees were urged to dress and act in a manner perpetuating racist stereotypes.

Three nights later, members of The Koala staff used racially insensitive language on a student-run television program, according to the Associated Students leadership.

A note was on the floor of the studio that read “Compton lynching,” according to published reports.

Soon afterward, the Associated Students shut down the student-run television station.

Johan De La Torre, a 23-year-old senior communication major, said after signing the petition that the newspaper should support itself through advertising.

“A lot of it is funny, but a lot of it is cruel, too,” said De La Torre. “It seems more cruel now. I don’t think it represents UCSD. It represents an underground UCSD.”

Kevin Wildberger, 25, said he decided not to sign the petition because he didn’t think Shokufeh made an adequate connection between the party and the newspaper.

“It’s pretty entertaining stuff,” Wildberger, also a communication major, said about The Koala. “It’s not the most intelligent stuff.”

Some of the content can be “slanderous,” Wildberger added.

There are a number of student publications at UCSD, so the question of whether The Koala represented the student body was pointless, he said.

Whether the effort to ban student funding of the newspaper gains traction remains to be seen. About 30 signatures had been collected by lunchtime.

Some students walked past and said “free speech” when they declined to sign the petition.

Shokufeh said she supported free speech, and The Koala was more than welcome to raise its own funds or use free space on the university’s Web site.

The campus appeared to be free of any outward racial tension on the first day of the school week.

There were no posters, banners or signs about the controversy or publicity for a “teach-in” that UCSD officials have scheduled for Wednesday. An electronic message board at the student center that publicizes upcoming events did not mention the teach-in.