A meeting of the UCSB Associated Students Legislative Council on Wednesday ended in the student government group looking into a boycott against the school’s student newspaper, the Daily Nexus. As well, the A.S. council proposed an audit of the paper’s expenditures, considered freezing the paper’s funds, and called for the the resignation of certain staff members.
The Nexus’ Wednesday issue this week featured a full-page color advertisement for the renovated Coronado Apartments. The complex gained much notoriety under the former name, Cedarwood, in the much publicized legal battle that ensued when the owners, Conquest Student Housing, evicted tenants living in 55 of the building’s units. A.S. Off-Campus Representative Jeronimo Saldana proposed to the Legislative Council a sanctioning of the Nexus for apparently supporting an institution that, in his words, does not represent the best interests of UCSB students and I.V. residents. “I felt insulted. I felt insulted for the families, too,” Saldana said. Last fall, many members of Associate Students and other students protested Conquest’s treatment of the now-former tenants.
According to Saldana, he approached Daily Nexus editor-in-chief Kaitlin Pike about pulling the ad, but Pike refused, claiming that A.S. does not have the authority to control the paper’s content — whether editorial or ad-related. Pike, however, said that the common journalistic separation between a newspaper’s editorial office and advertising department meant that she did not have the authority to have the ad pulled from future issues. “I think student government doesn’t respect freedom of speech,” Pike said, referring to this current dispute and a long list of others with A.S. that goes back decades into the paper’s history. “They’re fine when we agree with what they say, but not when we disagree.”
Saldana said that his complaint against the advertisement is “not one of authority, but one of morality.” The boycott and the other actions against the paper will be further discussed at next Wednesday’s Legislative Council meeting. If the council votes to boycott the free paper, Saldana said any A.S.-affiliated organizations would be prohibited from spending money advertising in the paper. Saldana also said that he was looking into the legality of whether A.S. could freeze the money the Nexus receives from a quarterly lock-in fee — $0.85 per student per the three main academic quarters, plus $0.57 per summer session.
“I feel like I’ve been kicked in the shins, repeatedly,” said Pike about the statements made at the meeting. Pike claims that A.S. cannot touch the lock-in fee unless the student body votes to allow them to do so in a campus-wide election. And Pike says that the paper is willing to comply with Saldana’s request for an audit. However, any censoring of the Nexus’ content would be a violation of a new law that, as of January 1, prohibits any college administration from censoring its newspaper’s content.
A.S. President Jared Goldschen said that he had no comment on the matter of boycotting the Nexus, though he agreed with Saldana’s statement that the paper should not have run the ad. “It’s a slap in the face to the people who worked so hard [to protest Conquest], but I also think the newspaper has a right to run what they want. I just think their smearing themselves with their own hands.”