Appendix J

Communication Code

(ASBOD: 3/27/67, 8/5/76, 3/10/77, 5/31/84, 6/1/98)
(Senate: 4/6/67, 7/27/76, 2/22/77, 7/3/84, 5/9/95, 5/20/97)
(President: 4/21/67, 7/30/76, 3/17/77, 8/16/84, 5/24/96, 6/9/98)
(Editorial Amendment:  9/99, 9/00, 9/03)

Publications and broadcasting activities subsidized by the Associated Students or the Instructionally Related Activities Board (IRA) and affiliated with an instructional department of California State University, Los Angeles shall be regulated by this Code.

The staff members of these media activities will be continuing students at Cal State L.A. They will adhere to the provisions of this Communications Code, which will be administered by the Communications Board, acting as advisory to the President of California State University, Los Angeles (CSLA) as described below. This provision should not be construed to exclude contributions from persons who are not continuing students at CSLA.


The objectives of the Communications Code are as follows:

  1. To help maintain specific media activities as integral parts of the educational program.
  2. To help ensure that these specific media activities are guided by the same principles as guide other curricular and co-curricular programs.
  3. To help ensure equitable procedural and budgetary treatment of specified media activities.
  4. To provide a representative body drawn from faculty, administrators, and students to interpret and apply those policies established in the Communications Code.
  5. To preserve and guarantee full editorial freedom of students.
  6. To make clear the editorial responsibilities of students.
  7. To provide faculty advisers with a general policy within which they are expected to guide their media activities.
  8. To provide editors or managers with a general policy within which they are expected to guide their media activities.
  9. To define the relationships and lines of authority among the staffs of the media activities and Communications Board, the Associated Students, Inc., the University faculty, administration and staff, the faculties of those departments directly related to media activities, the Associated Students Administrative Office, and other segments of the CSLA community.
  10. To preserve and guarantee fair procedures for resolving differences between media staffs and their audiences, advertisers, and others.
  11. To promote continuity of media activities.
  12. To enhance a sense of community within CSLA.

Right of Free Speech.

Nothing in this Code shall be understood to give the University, the Communications Board, faculty advisers, or any other individual any right to infringe upon or interfere with the right to free speech. It is understood that student editors frequently will hold and express opinions opposite to those held by faculty, staff and administration, and it is expected that they will express these opinions in an accurate, forthright and responsible manner.

The University is aware that the decision of a student editor or manager might not be the kind of decision that a member of the faculty or administration would make in the same situation. It is conceivable a decision of an editor or manager might be embarrassing to the University, but it still upholds the idea that the editor or manager is free to make honest mistakes when personal conviction is at stake. The University believes its concerns are better served by freedom than by censorship.

The staffs must recognize, however, that every right has its responsibility; every privilege, its obligation. The right of free expression carries the responsibility of stating facts accurately, of giving adequate coverage to views contrary to those of the editors and managers, and of adhering to the highest ethical and professional of journalism, broadcasting and telecasting standards.

Areas of Responsibility.

  1. Responsibility of the University. CSLA is represented in part through its publications and electronic media activities. Final authority and responsibility for policies and procedures governing the specified activities rest with the President of the University, who delegates day-to-day authority and responsibility to the Communications Board, and by that Board, in turn, to the editors, managers, staff members, publishers and general managers. As noted under "Right to Free Speech" above, "policies and procedures" prescribed by this Code explicitly exclude matters of content.
  2. Responsibility of the Communications Board. The Communications Board, as chief agent for the President of the University, administers policies and procedures governing student media activities, but will not become involved in day-to-day operations.
  3. Advisory Responsibility of Faculty Advisers. The faculty adviser of a student media activity at CSLA shall act in an advisory capacity, serving as an important resource regarding the best media standards and practices. The adviser's counsel should be sought freely by the editor, manager, or staff of the media activity when questions of judgment are involved. The adviser may make suggestions to the staff at any time.


Functions of the Communications Board.

In broad terms the Communications Board shall:

  1. Set general policy for student media activities which shall embrace the best standards and practices of publishing and electronic media.
  2. Make recommendations concerning funding of, and allocations to, the communications media activities.
  3. Arbitrate disputes between the media activities and audiences or clients when these disputes cannot be resolved by the activities' internal procedures.
  4. Evaluate the effectiveness of the Communications Code in meeting the needs of the CSLA community.
  5. Encourage development of new communications media activities.

Membership of the Board.

The voting members of the Communications Board shall be:

  1. Three members of the faculty and two alternates, are to be elected by the Nominations Committee. Elections will be held in the Spring Quarter. These three faculty members are to serve for terms of two years on a rotating basis to be determined initially by lot, i.e. one person to serve a one-year term, one person a two-year term, all subsequent appointees shall serve two-year terms.
  2. One person appointed by the President of the University.
  3. Three students to be appointed by the Associated Students, Inc., Board of Directors. These students are to be of at least junior standing and must meet University and CSU standards regarding eligibility for student directors and/or appointees to committee service. To ensure full student representation on the Board, two alternates shall be appointed by the Board of Directors of the Associated Students, Inc., and shall serve as determined by the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors.
  4. Board members must exempt themselves from discussions of matters which might pose a conflict of interest.
  5. Four voting members will constitute a quorum.
  6. Any voting member absent from two consecutive meetings, shall be replaced unless off-campus for university-related business or is excused by the chair of the Communications Board. In cases of absence by faculty members, the chair of the Communications Board will notify the Nominations Committee regarding the vacancy. The Nominations Committee will appoint replacement(s) to serve the remainder of the relevant term. In cases of absence by student members, the chair will advise the President of the Associated Students, Inc., who will take appropriate action to effect a replacement. In case of absence by the presidential appointee, the chair will advise the President of the University.
  7. Ex officio, nonvoting members of the Board will include one faculty representative from each media activity covered by this Code and the Vice President for Student Affairs or designee.

Meetings of the Communications Board will be open, except that when dealing with personnel matters under the Board's jurisdiction; in these instances the Board shall go into executive session. The chair is empowered to call meetings, or meetings shall be convened by petition of four of the Board members. The Board shall determine its own chair annually and it may select other officers. Such selections shall be made by a majority vote.

Allocation of Funds.

Funds shall be allocated in accord with Administrative Procedure 029.

Communications activities are expected to provide as much of their own financial support as possible, drawing upon advertising, subscription, and other revenue sources.

General Policies Governing Student Media Activities to be administered by the Communications Board.

1. Mission Statement: The Communications Board shall ensure that all media activities under its jurisdiction have current Mission Statements. A student media activity must provide the Communications Board with a copy of its Mission Statement at least one Board meeting prior to any consideration of funding for that activity. A Mission Statement must include but is not limited to:

a. a statement of objectives for an/or goals of the activity;

b. a statement of the audience/constituency to be served by the activity;

c. editorial policy which operationalizes the objectives and goals of the activity;

d. a statement of standards and ethics to be followed by the activity as, for example, the Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics;

e. an internal procedure to arbitrate disputes between the activity and its audience, advertisers, and others;

f. identification of sources of activity funding; and

g. identification of the faculty adviser for the student media activity. All student media activities must have faculty advisers.

All Mission Statements, and the editorial, ethical, and arbitration procedures they specify, must comply with University, state and federal standards for media responsibility to readers or audiences.

2. Selection Procedures for Editors and Managers. The Communications Board shall ensure that all media activities under its jurisdiction have fair and workable procedures governing the selection of editors or managers. These procedures must be on file with the Communications Board at least one Board meeting prior to any consideration of funding for that activity.

Selection procedures must:

a. Include criteria for establishing qualifications for selection. These criteria must include, but are not limited to, assurance that nominees:

1. meet University standards regarding eligibility of student directors and/or appointees to committee service.

2. have the necessary academic background and knowledge of campus issues; this would generally be someone who has attained a junior or senior class standing,

3. are enrolled as regular students throughout their tenure of office,

4. are in good standing,

5. have enrolled in the appropriate activities class, or previously have completed one quarter in the class at the time of election in those cases where the communications media are class connected, and

6. be competent in judgment and possess the necessary ability and experience.

b. Ensure fair and equitable treatment of all qualified nominees. It is the responsibility of the media activity to publicize its requirements for editor or manager prior to the nomination of candidates.

3. Arbitration. An individual with a grievance against a student editor or manager, or against a student media activity under the jurisdiction of the Communications Board, must pursue that grievance through the procedures established by that activity before approaching the Communications Board. If after following the relevant procedure, the dispute remains unsolved, it may be brought before the Board which will initiate arbitration proceedings as follows:

  1. The complaint against the campus media activity must be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Communications Board, who will designate a hearing officer. This hearing officer shall be chosen from among a panel of at least three faculty members previously selected by the Communications Board. This panel will not include any members of the Board.
  2. If the hearing officer decides that the complaint merits further attention, the officer will meet with the complainant and the editor or manager individually. Within 15 working days the hearing officer shall determine whether the complaint merits further attention, whereupon the hearing officer will meet with the complainant and the editor or manager together to seek resolution of the complaint.
  3. If both sides are satisfied at the close of this meeting, the matter will be closed. If, however, the dispute remains unresolved, the Communications Board, at its next regular meeting will hear the report of the hearing officer and testimony from all interested parties and will attempt to resolve the matter. Records maintained by the Communications Board respecting complaints brought before it shall not be limited to the report of the hearing officer, but shall include a careful transcript of all other testimony, presentations, and relevant materials bearing on the case being heard. Care shall be taken that all interested parties to the complaint shall have received adequate notice of this hearing and a full opportunity to present their viewpoints.

The Communications Board as a board shall not "solicit business." It shall never initiate the arbitration process described above. It shall never attempt to arbitrate disputes unless the editor or manager and the person with a complaint have been brought together for discussion as described above.

If individual members of the Board initiate complaints, they shall not participate in the adjudication of the complaints. If a student editor or manager and faculty adviser of a publication media activity are at an impasse over a serious matter, they may seek the counsel or arbitration from the Communications Board. They will start the process by first contacting the Chair of the Board. This is a voluntary process; the Board shall not step into disputes of this nature unless asked by the editor, manager or adviser.

Media Activities' Responsibility to Readers or Audience.

  1. Print Media. In the print media, reader response generally takes the form of letters to the editor. Recognizing that these letters will range between high praise and extreme censure, the editor should consider all such letters carefully and print a fair representation of all views. There are limits in civilized discussion, however; and the editor should refuse to publish defamatory letters and all letters contrary to law. Media staff members will provide a copy of the canons of journalism or such document which describes and defines defamatory, fraudulent, and illegal materials.
    Students and members of the faculty, administration or staff subjected to personal attack should be given the opportunity by the editor to reply in the same issue; publication of either attack or reply shall not be delayed longer than one issue without the consent of the person involved.
    Letters based on obvious errors of fact should be returned to the originators for revision. Letters must be signed and full University identification given; a name may not be printed if the originator so requests, but signed letters generally will have priority. Identification should be verified when the editor deems it necessary.
    Policies on letters to the editor shall be printed at least once each term, and preferably more often.
  2. Broadcast Media. In the broadcast media, audience response generally takes the form of telephone call-ins on talk shows, editorial rebuttals, and participation in public affairs programs.

Telephone call-ins are to be aired only with a standard seven-second tape delay and bleeper mechanism. Station managers shall prevent defamatory and unlawful matter from being broadcast.

Student broadcasting activities are to be governed by provisions of "The Fairness Doctrine," as defined by rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission, in the airing of editorials, editorial rebuttals and public affairs programming. All broadcast editorials shall conclude with an invitation for rebuttal by qualified persons. Any person whose name is mentioned in a broadcast editorial shall be provided with a copy of the editorial prior to the time of broadcast with an invitation to respond. Responses shall not be delayed longer than one broadcast without the consent of the person involved.

When broadcast programs on issues of public importance are presented, student managers are obligated to seek out and present opposing views. Student broadcasting activities managers shall maintain a public access file toward this end.


Advertising in the student media is for sale to legitimate advertisers at established rates, as set forth in the official rate cards of the activities. No advertising will be accepted on any other basis. Rate cards must be approved by, and on file with, the Communications Board.

Advertising will be sold with no reference whatever to news, editorial, or program content. No additional publicity will be promised or given any advertiser, and any news or publicity material submitted with an advertisement or by an advertiser will be used only if, and to the extent that, the editor or manager believes its inherent news value warrants.

Copy and visual materials for advertisements shall conform to acceptable standards of good taste, integrity, and responsibility. Fraudulent or obviously misleading advertisements will not be accepted. No advertisements contrary in any way to University regulations or to city, state, or federal laws will be permitted.

The student media reserve the right to refuse any advertising. They will maintain and furnish upon request a list of types of advertising prohibited. These lists shall be filed with the Communications Board.

Advertising practices in student broadcasting activities shall be guided by the advertising standards of the National Association of Broadcasters Radio and Television Code.

Solicitation of Donations and Contributions

In accord with University policy, all solicitation for contributions and donations to support student media activities must be coordinated through the University Development Office.

External Review and Self-Study

The Communications Board shall review the effectiveness of the Communications Code in meeting the needs of the CSLA community every five years. Their review shall consist of a self-study followed by an external review by an independent consultant(s).

Amending Power

This Code may be amended only by one of the following procedures:

  1. Action initiated by the Academic Senate.
  2. Action initiated by the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors.
  3. Petitions signed by three percent of the student body.
  4. Action that receives four affirmative votes in the Communications Board.

A proposal so developed to amend this Code shall be presented to the Academic Senate and the Associated Students, Inc. Board of Directors. Upon passage by a majority vote in each body, the proposal shall be adopted if thereafter such proposal is ratified by the President of the University.

Executing Contracts

A contract may only be executed on behalf of the State of California, the Trustees of California State University, or California State University, Los Angeles (CSLA) by an authorized contracting officer. At CSLA the only contracting officers are the President and the Vice President for Administration and Finance. Some contracts require execution and approval by systemwide officers and the State Department of General Services.