UCSD, ACLU reach settlement in satirical student newspaper lawsuit

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The American Civil Liberties Union and UC San Diego have reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a satirical student-run newspaper, which alleged that its funding was cut off following the publication of a controversial article in violation of the First Amendment.

The case involves The Koala and a November 2015 article it published satirizing “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings,” leading UCSD’s student government to disqualify student newspapers from eligibility for campus activity funds.

At the time, UCSD issued a statement calling the paper “profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel” and denouncing “the offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish.”

A federal judge dismissed the ACLU’s lawsuit in 2017, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision last year.

Under terms of the settlement, UCSD will pay $150,000 in attorney fees and provide $12,500 in funding for The Koala. The settlement also states that the Associated Students of the University of California, San Diego agrees that The Koala’s status as a print media organization does not preclude it from receiving funding.

UCSD did not respond to a  request for comment regarding the settlement.

“We’re pleased the university agreed to a resolution that respects the First Amendment principles upheld by the Ninth Circuit and allows the student press to continue to flourish,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

Ryan T. Darby, ACLU co-counsel said, “This settlement protects student media from censorship at UCSD, and the Ninth Circuit’s ruling creates a precedent that will help protect student speech across the country.”

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