Drea Hightower was sitting in a hotel room in Cuba when a friend emailed her about the sale of KUSF’s frequency.
Hightower, a USF graduate and current employee of Global Exchange, the San Francisco-based organization committed to human rights and fair trade, said she couldn’t help but feel betrayed by the news.
Upon her arrival back home, Hightower attended a panel on communication rights and the battle to save KUSF during last week’s Human Rights Film Festival. She took serious note of the community efforts being made to save the public airwaves from being sold.
Within days, officials at SaveKUSF.org received notification they had been nominated for their extraordinary efforts in the community. Save KUSF is being recognized as one of the nominees in this year’s “People’s Choice Award,” for the Global Exchange Ninth Annual Human Rights Awards Gala on June 1st.
Each year, Global Exchange selects a theme to honor International and National organizations and individuals for their contributions towards making the world a more just place.
Given Hightower’s connections with Global Exchange, it was a unique opportunity to recognize Save KUSF. Hightower said Savekusf.org is “demonstrating exactly what the award is given for – those who fight for what they believe in on behalf of the community.”
As an alumnus of the university and having worked for a public radio station that was sold in the past, Hightower expressed a tremendous amount of disappointment in the administration for the sale of KUSF, noting that the university was contradicting its Jesuit principles and mission of cultivating minds and hearts to change the world.
She said the effort to save KUSF is a big deal and those leading the charge should be celebrated for their work.
“There are a large amount of efforts to get people to buy local goods, and by the same token, we should value and respect the work of KUSF, which is there to serve the community,” Hightower said, “that’s what this university stands for.”
Dorothy Kidd, professor of Media Studies, is among those who are mobilizing to save KUSF.
She found this special award to be a symbol of praise and recognition for the ongoing efforts of an energized movement and community anchored by students and faculty at KUSF.
Kidd keeps a copy of the 1st Amendment and Article 19 of the Declaration of Human Rights posted on her office door. The words serve to remind people of the fundamental rights granted to citizens to “receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers,” a message at the core of save KUSF’s mission.
While the outlook for blocking the sale was grim at the outset, many have become optimistic regarding the petition of the sale.
For Kidd, what makes KUSF unique is the ability to “serve students, faculty, special populations not served elsewhere in the public. Its standing as a ‘laboratory’ in the San Francisco community that cultivates culture, internships, and future public servants,” are ideals that she claimed are in line with the Jesuit mission.
Many other prominent schools nationwide, including Rice University’s KTRU, have seen their administrations sell their airwaves in what they describe as efforts to balance their budgets.
Members at Save KUSF have been the catalysts of a movement against corporate acquisitions of the university’s public airwaves.
For this reason, the students, faculty, and members of the public have collectively organized to petition the sale and now stand an opportunity to gain significant recognition.
Nominations for the Global Exchange’s “People’s Choice Award” end on April 19 and will be announced at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco on June 1. Winners will be highlighted in the media and will receive a $1,000 award to continue their work.
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