University of California at San Diego: First Amendment Violations at UCSD

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: University of California, San Diego

In a victory for freedom of the press on campus, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted last night to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. FIRE has been working with student media to end the funding freeze.

  • Censoring bigoted speech at UC San Diego: Who does it help?

    March 11, 2010

    In the last few weeks, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) has been tearing itself apart over racial and ethnic issues. The impetus for the turmoil is the “Compton Cookout,” a “ghetto”-themed off-campus party involving a Las Vegas-based African American comedian who calls himself “Jiggaboo Jones.” The controversial party, held last month to “celebrate” Black History Month, was followed by the reported use of a racial slur on UCSD’s student television station, the hanging of a noose in the library, and the placement of a ”Klan-style” pillowcase on a campus statue of Dr. Seuss, of all people. In response, UCSD has […]

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  • Staff Editorial in UCSD ‘Guardian’ Gets It Right on Proposed Hate Speech Bill

    April 2, 2010

    As Adam blogged earlier, campus publications at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have been admirably defending students’ First Amendment rights at UCSD and elsewhere. In the wake of a campus crisis at UCSD over free speech rights and a student government-imposed freeze on funding for student media, it is good to see student journalists standing up for the rights of their fellow students, not to mention bringing some needed common sense to discussion of these matters. The latest such effort is a ringing staff editorial in the UCSD student paper The Guardian that criticizes a proposed “hate speech” bill […]

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  • UCSD Campus Publications Guard the First Amendment with Vigilance

    April 2, 2010

    Brenda Madriz Montes, Editor in Chief of the Left Coast Post at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), has written a good letter to the editor of student paper The Guardian this week about the amazingly brash and unconstitutional mass censorship of dozens of student media organizations by Associated Students of UCSD president Utsav Gupta—which apparently was condoned by UCSD counsel. The letter argues that “as long [sic] the A.S. Council and other students on campus go after student media organizations based on their content, media organizations are going to keep using the First Amendment to defend themselves.” The writer adds: “Also, you cannot judge […]

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  • Rights in the News: First Amendment Wins Out at UCSD

    March 12, 2010

    As we’ve written here a couple of times already, FIRE was pleased to announce yesterday that the students of the University of California, San Diego won’t have to linger another week under the media freeze imposed by its student government. A special thanks to the many who wrote to Chancellor Marye Anne Fox and student government president Utsav Gupta to make their voices heard at UCSD. We’re certainly not done watching UCSD, however; nor are we done watching nearby Southwestern College, whose paper The Southwestern Sun, as I wrote earlier, has continued to keep the pressure on the SWC administration […]

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  • Behind the Scenes at UCSD: ‘Guardian’ Shows the Lengths Student Government Went to Gain Control of Media

    March 12, 2010

    After three weeks of heated debate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), FIRE announced yesterday that the Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD) has finally restored funding to the 33 student media organizations whose quarterly funding was frozen by ASUCSD President Utsav Gupta following the utterance of a racial slur on UCSD’s student-run television station. The UCSD student newspaper The Guardian points out that, according to the Standing Rules of the ASUCSD, the governing body was required to do so: According to the A.S. Standing Rules, a funding freeze is automatically lifted by Wednesday of Week 10 if the […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of the Press: UC San Diego Ends Unconstitutional Funding Freeze

    March 11, 2010

    Last night, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. FIRE has been working with student media to end the funding freeze. It is far past time that the unconstitutional funding freeze, which was unilaterally enacted on February 18 by Utsav Gupta, President of the Associated Students of UCSD (UCSD’s student government), was lifted. Controversy over a party invitation for an off-campus event called the “Compton Cookout” […]

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  • Victory for Freedom of the Press: UC San Diego Ends Unconstitutional Funding Freeze

    March 11, 2010

    SAN DIEGO, March 11, 2010—In a victory for freedom of the press on campus, the student government of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) voted last night to end an ongoing moratorium on funding for student media. The vote restores funding for student media organizations and makes no changes to the current policy governing student media. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has been working with student media to end the funding freeze. “It took far too long, but with last night’s vote, UCSD’s student government has finally overruled its president’s grievous disregard for the First Amendment,” […]

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  • In ‘Pajamas Media,’ FIRE’s Robert Shibley Criticizes Censorship of ‘Hate Speech’ at UCSD

    March 11, 2010

    Today in Pajamas Media, FIRE Vice President Robert Shibley addresses the questionable effects of efforts to silence “hate speech” at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), rather than let it be judged in the harsh light of the marketplace of ideas. Here’s his brief rundown of the controversy: The impetus for the turmoil is the “Compton Cookout,” a “ghetto”-themed off-campus party involving a Las Vegas-based African American comedian who calls himself “Jiggaboo Jones.” The controversial party, held last month to “celebrate” Black History Month, was followed by the reported use of a racial slur on UCSD’s student television station, […]

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  • In Battling Racism, UC San Diego Must Not Follow the University of Delaware’s Example

    March 10, 2010

    While much of the University of California, San Diego’s (UCSD’s) campus media remains under the deep freeze imposed by Associated Students of UCSD President Utsav Gupta nearly three weeks ago in the wake of racially-tinged incidents there, news is being made at UCSD on other fronts. A recent letter to the campus from UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox announces that she and Black Student Union co-chairs David Ritcherson and Fnann Keflezighi have “signed a mutual agreement that demonstrates our joint commitment to improve the overall campus climate for everyone.” While Fox’s letter gives little indication about what forthcoming improvements might look like, […]

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  • Rights in the News: Greg’s New Book Project Announced as Battle For Free Speech Continues at UCSD

    March 6, 2010

    In a week when a college football coach praised the mass theft of a campus newspaper as a productive “team-building exercise,” and a blanket funding freeze of student fee-funded media continues at UC San Diego over the protests of just about everyone who’s not Associated Students of UCSD President Utsav Gupta, the announcement of FIRE President Greg Lukianoff’s new book project is aptly timed, to say the least. On his blog at The Huffington Post and here at The Torch, Greg lays out his thesis: In my opinion, higher education is supposed to work as a sort of “sophistication machine” for our society. That is, it is […]

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  • Two California Student Newspapers Address UCSD Free Speech Issues: One Right, One Wrong

    March 3, 2010

    Two California college newspapers published editorials today regarding the Associated Students of University of California, San Diego (ASUCSD’s) blanket censorship of all 33 student media organizations at UCSD in the midst of an explosive controversy stemming from an off-campus “Compton Cookout” party held two weeks ago. One of the editorials does a masterful job of summarizing the issues—and one does not. First, the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Daily Nexus provides an excellent defense of the right to free speech: This silencing of an entire community’s media outlets is grossly unconstitutional. As offensive as so-called “hate speech” can be, it […]

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  • UCSD Students to Protest First Amendment Violations Today

    March 3, 2010

    Today, students at UCSD will protest the ongoing and unconstitutional violation of their First Amendment rights. Led by CFN member and California Review editor Alec Weisman, students will gather at UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox’s office at 12:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The protest is intended to be orderly, as described on its Facebook event page: We will not be emotional, we will not cause mass disruptions, but we will gather to calmly attempt to discuss with the Administration how the situation has gotten out of hand. About 200 people have confirmed attendance so far. Students will present letters written by FIRE and […]

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  • ‘Verified Apology’ for Noose Incident at UCSD

    March 1, 2010

    The situation at the University of California, San Diego, just keeps getting weirder. It has been reported in several places today that The Guardian, UCSD’s main student newspaper, has printed a "verified apology" from the unnamed student who hung a noose in the UCSD library. I say "it has been reported" because The Guardian’s website has been down for several hours now and we no longer can access the original. Here’s the text of the apology, however (in this case, we got it from blogger and former Guardian staffer Teresa Wu):I have a story that needs to be heard. I […]

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  • San Diego Columnist: Investigating Protected Speech is an Expensive Mistake

    March 1, 2010

    Writing in San Diego’s North County Times, columnist Jim Trageser makes several important points regarding the controversy that continues to roil the University of California, San Diego, in the wake of the off-campus “Compton Cookout” party. First, Trageser notes that UCSD’s ongoing investigation of protected speech is likely meant to chill further student expression: [S]chool administrators have launched an investigation to see whether they can, indeed, punish said students. It says here that the investigation itself is an absolute violation of the First Amendment. The publicly announced investigation is clearly intended to intimidate other students into avoiding any more controversial […]

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  • Rights in the News: FIRE on Front Lines as Free Speech Saga Unfolds at UCSD

    February 27, 2010

    Readers of The Torch this week have been treated to a blow-by-blow account of the First Amendment meltdown taking place at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). In case you’re not up to speed on the happenings at UCSD, however, here’s a brief rundown: A Facebook invitation for an off-campus  ”Compton Cookout” party that used African-American stereotypes has aroused heated and widespread controversy. Reportedly, the party was to promote the most recent DVD from a self-proclaimed “Internet star radio personality.” Although the invitation, as offensive as it is to many students, is protected by the First Amendment, UCSD has […]

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  • Why Doesn’t FIRE Condemn [Insert Your Least Favorite Expression Here]?

    February 26, 2010

    The University of California, San Diego (UCSD), seems to be in the process of melting down over racial issues. What started with a Facebook invitation to a “Compton Cookout” off-campus theme party has become an all-consuming campus imbroglio. The primary focus of the “investigation” into the party has been the invitation itself. Adam discussed it at length on The Torch yesterday, noting that however offensive a person might find the invitation, it simply did not rise to the level of actionable harassment. In response, blogger Angus Johnston wrote that he believed that FIRE did not take “anti-racism” sufficiently seriously because […]

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  • San Diego’s American Civil Liberties Union Writes Three Letters Defending Free Speech at UCSD

    February 26, 2010

    On Tuesday, FIRE reported that the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” In the face of threats of litigation from the media organizations, Gupta appears willing to get sued—”I’m not going to bow down […]

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  • Noose Reported at UCSD Library; Not Protected Speech

    February 26, 2010

    The UC Regent Live blog has the best information so far on the breaking news overnight regarding at least one noose found hanging in UCSD’s Geisel Library around midnight Pacific Time. The blog reports two people saying that the main student newspaper, The Guardian, received a note saying that more nooses are coming. The blog includes a photograph of the noose and reports that (as of about 2:20 a.m.) the police have no eyewitness accounts of the noose being placed, that there “are no cameras in that area of the library,” and that the police have opened a criminal investigation and […]

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  • UCSD Missed the Memo on New UC Harassment Policy

    February 25, 2010

    In Monday’s issue of The Guardian, UCSD’s mainstream student newspaper, student journalist Angela Chen reported on the unconstitutional efforts of UCSD administrators to punish students who were involved with a highly controversial “Compton Cookout” party off campus earlier this month. The party was most controversial because of an invitation that asked women to dress and act out a negative stereotypical portrayal of African-American “ghetto chicks.” FIRE has recognized why so many people found the party and the invitation offensive, and we have applauded the efforts of those who have responded with more speech rather than punishment. Yet, we also noted […]

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  • UCSD Upholds Media Funding Ban on 33 Organizations

    February 25, 2010

    The Associated Students of UCSD (ASUCSD), which is the student government at University of California, San Diego, has become a First Amendment nightmare for 33 student organizations on campus. Late last week, ASUCSD’s president, Utsav Gupta, unilaterally froze funding to 33 student media organizations because one of them had permitted another publication, The Koala, to broadcast “hateful speech.” Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue,” saying that his blanket ban on media spending is a “time out.” Gupta has argued several times that since he banned all media organizations from […]

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  • Double Standards at UCSD

    February 25, 2010

    Anyone following the current free-speech controversy at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) should be aware of the university’s response to another situation that arose at UCSD back in 1995. In March of 1995, a U.S. Border Patrol agent named Luis Santiago was killed in the line of duty. In May of that same year, the UCSD student publication Voz Fronteriza published an article entitled “Death of a Migra Pig,” celebrating Santiago’s death and calling for the deaths of additional border patrol agents: “We’re glad this pig died, he deserved to die … As far as we care all […]

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  • Support FIRE’s Work at UCSD!

    February 23, 2010

    Staffers at FIRE are working around the clock to protect the 26,000 students at the University of California, San Diego, whose rights are currently under attack. If you haven’t yet done so, I urge you to read about how UCSD has unconstitutionally frozen funds for its student media groups, shut down its campus TV station, and threatened punishment for protected speech. These outrageous developments demand immediate action. Help FIRE bring an end to these injustices and remind UCSD of its binding legal obligation, as a taxpayer-supported institution, to uphold the First Amendment rights of its students by donating $10 now. FIRE […]

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  • Silverglate on ‘Corrupted Language’ in Campus Speech Codes, Federal Law

    February 23, 2010

    Some people occasionally ask FIRE why we are so adamant that unconstitutional speech codes are a bad idea. FIRE Co-founder and Chairman Harvey Silverglate has a great essay on this subject in today’s Minding the Campus, in which he discusses “How Corrupted Language Moved from Campus to the Real World.” Harvey links the disregard for clarity in policy and the subsequent abuse of power that is rife on campus to the increasing abuse of federal laws to make crimes out of actions that may “feel” wrong but are actually not criminal. FIRE faces this problem frequently when we fight colleges […]

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  • UC San Diego Freezes Funds to 33 Media Groups, Dissolves Student TV, Threatens to Punish Students for Protected Speech

    February 23, 2010

    The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” Further, under pressure from state legislators who seek to punish protected speech, UCSD has launched “aggressive investigations” into the party invitation. After many students came to […]

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  • UC San Diego Freezes Funds for 33 Media Groups, Dissolves Student TV, Threatens to Punish Students for Protected Speech

    February 23, 2010

    SAN DIEGO, February 23, 2010—The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and its student government have violated the First Amendment by freezing funds for 33 student media organizations, dissolving the student-run television station, and threatening to punish students involved in a controversy over a party invitation for an event called the “Compton Cookout.” Student government president Utsav Gupta has explained that his repressive actions were due to “fracturing of the student body on an issue” and “hateful speech.” Further, under pressure from state legislators who seek to punish protected speech, UCSD has launched “aggressive investigations” into the party invitation. After […]

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