New Student Media Board bylaws take effect

Associated Students Inc. Executive Director Richard Haller clarified that the new student media bylaws, which passed on its third reading Nov. 16, do not have a content approval process but a review process.

Haller made several clarifications regarding Student Media Board bylaws during its final ASI Senate reading last week, stating that a Daily 49er editorial criticizing the bylaws was based on misinformation.

The editorial “Bylaws should not infringe too much on student presses” roused suspicion that the new bylaws would bring censorship to the Union Weekly’s content.

There is no content approval process that would bring censorship, but there is a review process, according to Haller.

If an editor were unsure of the First Amendment’s protection on a published work, their duty would be to seek an ASI staff adviser for legal advice.

Content that is obscene, libelous, an invasion of privacy or may create a material disruption of campus activity is not protected under First Amendment rights.

If published, the Student Media Board would then be liable for that content.

Student Media personnel could potentially be fired by ASI if they were to commit malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance.

“So the way I kind of explain it to the board is malfeasance is doing something bad, misfeasance is doing something wrong and nonfeasance is not doing what you’re supposed to do,” Haller said.

The media bylaws were also in development long before the controversy surrounding the Union Weekly’s “racist” Pow Wow article, according to Haller.

The bylaws were drafted in spring 2010 “to make the board more attractive to students who wanted to get involved and to give it more direction,” Haller said.

Prior to that, the Student Media Board did not have enough voting members to conduct business due to the lack of student recruitment.

“Now, I’ll admit that the controversy last spring kind of made this more of a priority, but we had been talking about this [bylaw reform] beforehand,” Haller said.

John Trapper, general manager of KBEACH, stated that the Pow Wow controversy spawned “Union haters” to apply for ASI senator-at-large positions and potentially sit on the Student Media Board.

Senator-at-Large Jason Neas later said the issue was not as urgent as Trapper implied, observing that the ASI application process would most likely filter out any applicants with ulterior motives against the Union Weekly.

“To be honest, I haven’t witnessed people who are against the Union Weekly apply for seats on the Student Media Board,” Haller said.

According to Haller, the mandatory training referenced in the bylaws does not pertain to students in KBEACH or the Union Weekly.

Rather, it pertains to training to become a member of the Student Media Board.

“Part of [the training] is knowing First Amendment rights, legal responsibilities … and basically how to be a good board member,” Haller said.

Haller also clarified that College Beat is not a Student Media outlet. Originally created as a marketing tool for the University Student Union, College Beat runs directly under the jurisdiction of ASI.

“College Beat is starting to get into broadcast products, like news reports and news features,” Haller said. “If they’re going to continue producing broadcast products, then it would make sense to come under the Student Media Board, but that’s nothing that we’re doing right now.”

The Student Media Board bylaws went into effect Nov. 18.

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