department menu

Student Media Policy | Policies | CSUSM

Student Media Policy

Definition: The purpose of this policy is to establish the guidelines for becoming an Officially Recognized Student Medium at CSUSM.
Authority: Academic Affairs
Scope: This policy applies to all students enrolled in CSUSM.
Responsible Division: Academic Affairs
Approval Date: 03/15/2012
Originally Implemented: 03/15/2012
Signature Page/PDF: View Student Media Policy Policy


I. Introduction
Student media are an integral part of California State University San Marcos's mission. They function as learning opportunities for students by providing hands-on application of classroom instruction thereby strengthening the educational experience for students interested in journalism, mass media, communications, marketing, visual and performing arts, and related fields. Additionally, student media serve as a source of news and entertainment for the CSUSM community. Officially recognized media are included on the University's website: As such, they actively contribute to the free exchange of ideas that strengthens an academic institution. Nothing in this protocol is intended to limit freedom of speech or press.

II. Student Media Advisory Council Membership and Structure and Student Media Executive Committee Membership and Structure

Officially recognized media are those that have been annually reviewed and recommended by the Student Media Advisory Council (SMAC) to the Student Media Executive Committee (SMEC) for consideration. SMAC membership is determined by the President or designee.

A. SMAC Membership

  • Advisor from each recognized student media
  • Academic Affairs budget support staff
  • Academic Affairs representative (co-chair)
  • Student Affairs representative (co-chair)
  • University Advancement representative
  • VPA Department Chair
  • One external consultant, an off-campus professional in journalism or a mass-media industry, recommended by SMAC to the President
  • Editor from each recognized Student Media
  • Financial and Administrative Services representative
  • Two ASI-appointed student representatives who are non-Board of Directors members
  • Two faculty members, serving two-year, staggered terms, appointed by NEAC

B. Major Purposes of SMAC

  1. The council will serve in an advisory capacity for the student and administrative staff of student media, as well as any additional student-led media enterprises that emerge on campus in the future.
  2. The Council will also serve as advisory resource for campus administration regarding the appropriate development, support, administration, and institutional "housing" of student media.

C. Main Roles and Responsibilities of SMAC

  1. Advise the central campus administration. In particular, as a first order of business, explore, analyze, and recommend an organizational "home" for student media.
  2. Provide direct advisement regarding operations of student media, while refraining from any exercise of prior restraint, prior censorship, or violation of First-Amendment guarantees provided for student newspapers.
  3. Serve as a resource for any future student media start-up enterprises. (President Haynes' Memo to SMAC, 14 Feb. 2007)

D. SMEC Membership

  • College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral & Social Sciences' Dean
  • Dean of Students
  • Vice President of Student Affairs
  • Provost (who will serve as the SMEC chair)

E. Major Purpose and Roles and Responsibilities of SMEC

  1. Report to the President and serve as the President's designee for making the final decision of SMAC recommendations.
  2. Pay particular attention to student media staffing, curricular, and fiscal needs.

III. Becoming an Officially Recognized Student Medium
Recognized that student media should provide an opportunity to  build upon skills learned in the classroom, all officially recognized student media require a course component. Anyone working on officially recognized student media must be concurrently enrolled in (or have completed) specific courses as defined by the media operation manuals.

As noted earlier, student media are integral to California State University San Marcos' Mission, They function as learning opportunities for students by providing hands-on applications of classroom instruction thereby strengthening the educational experience for students. As such student media are part of the university curriculum and fulfill specific learning goals. Students interested in starting a new medium must work with the student media proposal and identify a faculty member who will provide guidance and oversight in writing the proposal. The department chair will consult with the Dean or Dean's designee regarding the proposal.

In order to become an officially recognized student medium, the department in partnership with the interested student must present a proposal to the Student Media Advisory Council (SMAC) which contains, at minimum:

  1. The Dean or Dean's Designee recommendation in response to the student media proposal.
  2. The name of the designated faculty advisor who will provide guidance and oversight for the medium or the plan for how he or she will be identified.
  3. A list of course requirements for participation.
  4. A business and operational plan and budget.
  5. A publication/ production schedule.
  6. An organizational chart that includes job descriptions.
  7. A list of interested student participants and their anticipated roles with the medium. All student members must be in good standing with the university.

SMAC reviews proposals and makes recommendations to SMEC. SMEC will review the student media staffing, curricular, and fiscal needs and make the final decision as the President's designee.

IV. Published Material
CSUSM recognizes and affirms the editorial independence and press freedom of officially recognized student media. Student editors/producers of the decisions they make. All students working with the student media are expected to conduct themselves as prescribed by professional codes of ethics in addition to applicable codes to student conduct and relevant legal standards.

A. In considering content, students should do the following:

  1. Strive to produce publication/production based upon existing professional and community standards or accuracy, objective, and fair play;
  2. Publish the student names and roles of the editorial staff to include editors/producers, writers, and advisors.
  3. Check and verify all facts and verify the accuracy of quotations and image captions;
  4. In the case of editorials, commentaries, letters to the editor, or guest commentaries concerning controversial issues, determine the need for rebuttals and provide space/air time if appropriate;
  5. Be responsible for knowing and adhering to current applicable laws with regard to professional and student media;
  6. Work closely with respective faculty advisors to create and enforce review methods to prevent publication or broadcast of material that is legally problematic, including libel, slander, and obscenity.

B. Prohibited Material
The following expectations apply to individuals, CSUSM students and, via this policy, to student media organizations recognized by the University. In addition, violations of the following policies by an organization, or an individual acting on its behalf, prior to an application for University recognition will be considered in the recognition decision.

  1. Individuals cannot publish, distribute, or produce material that is obscene or harmful as prohibited by California Penal OCde Sections 311-312.7 and 313-313.5.
  2. Individuals cannot publish, distribute, or produce material which is defamatory as set forth in California Civil Code Section 44, et seq.
  3. Based on the CSU Standards for Student Conduct, students cannot publish, distribute, or produce material that encourages, promotes, or solicits behavior that would violate the student code of conduct (refer to the Dean of Students Office website at
  4. Individuals cannot publish, distribute, or produce material prohibited by law and not protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

C. Legal Advice

  1. If, in the opinion of the student editor, student editorial staff, or faculty advisor, material proposed for publication or production may be obscene, libelous, or "cause a substantial disruption of school activities," the Editor-in-Chief/producer and advisor should seek legal advice.
  2. The final decision of whether legally questionable material is to be published/produced will be left to the Editor-in-Chief (or student in like position) of the publication in question, who is responsible for the content of the publication/production and any consequences that result.

D. Interpretation
Final interpretation of the above guidelines will rest with SMEC. Request for recognition by for-profit affiliates will require further consideration given the university's status as a non-profit state-supported entity.

V. Implications for Violations of University Policy, Standards of Student Conduct, and Applicable Laws on recognition of Student Media.

Any violation of the aforementioned standards by the recognized media organization, or by individuals acting on its behalf whether known or unknown to the rest of the membership, will result in administrative review of recognition of the organization by SMEC as the President's designee. Outcomes of this administrative review may include change in recognition status, including but not limited to revocation, probation, and conditional recognition. In addition, educational sanctions may be required of the student medium.