SAN DIEGO — The University of California, San Diego has halted funding for student media after a TV segment ridiculed black students outraged by a party mocking Black History Month.
The head of the school's student government froze funding for print media outlets last week after one, The Koala, ran a student TV episode calling black students ungrateful and using a derogatory term for blacks. He also pulled the student-run television station off the air.
Associated Students President Utsav Gupta suspended funding for about 15 of the school's 33 student-funded media outlets to avoid the impression that he was judging content. He said Koala or any other outlet may continue to publish, just without student funding.
"Some students are drawing the incorrect conclusion that this is muzzling free speech," he said in an interview. "The right to free speech does not equate to a right to funding."
In a letter posted on a new university Web site to address recent racially charged incidents on campus, Gupta said the organization "will only open (the TV station) again when we can be sure that such hateful content can never be aired again on our student funded TV station."
Gupta also pleaded for patience with other student media outlets until a committee can craft a new policy on student-funded media.
The Koala, which has a reputation for airing offensive material, made fun of reaction to an off-campus fraternity party Feb. 15 that urged partygoers to dress as ghetto stereotypes to commemorate Black History Month.
Gupta, who called the program "deeply offensive and hurtful," said the segment aired without approval from the two station managers. That's a violation of the student-run television charter, prompting him to pull the station off the air.
A group of state legislators has demanded an investigation into who was behind the party, including possible student suspensions and revocation of fraternity permits.
Tensions were running high before the TV program aired Thursday. Only about 2 percent of the school's 29,000 students are black, a historically low number that the Black Student Union highlighted last week when it presented a series of demands to administrators that aim to improve the racial climate.
School administrators said on the Web site that they are "exhaustively investigating" the string of incidents and that potential sanctions range from letters of censure to expulsion.
The Koala, which receives about $7,000 a year in student funding, also stirred up controversy in 2005 when it aired video of a student performing sex acts with an unidentified woman. Kris Gregorian, the editor-in-chief, declined to discuss the latest incident.
University administrators have taken a hands-off approach to the news outlets.
"This is students policing students," said Judy Piercey, a UCSD spokeswoman. "They are essentially having to police themselves."
On the Net:
UC San Diego, http://battlehate.ucsd.edu/
(This version corrects that station was pulled off the air, number of organizations affected to 15, not 33.)