Earlier this week, the Student Life Report committee released their finalized 50-something page document about student life. The report primarily focuses on the advisory boards and GPB, but does summarize intellectual life and administrative accountability too. You can find the entire report at the end of this post, but in case you don’t want to read the entire thing, Vox has pulled out the interesting bits for you.
A big ticket issue on campus is centralized space booking: everyone wants to put all space booking under one office. In addition to that SLR2012 recommends that the university renegotiate with Aramark to give better (and cheaper) access to the ballrooms.
On that note, SLR2012 also recommends reducing or eliminating the fees performing arts groups must pay for space.
In many respects, it seems that Georgetown’s issues may be easily solved by simply making [performance] spaces more readily available and less expensive to use. Almost all groups see the requirement to pay for performance space as a hindrance to their ability to regularly perform or attract large audiences. No other surveyed schools required their student groups to pay for use of performance spaces. (p. 40)
For club sports, SLR2012 mainly wants bureaucratic reform so club sports stops getting the short end of the stick in athletic facilities. Specifically, the reports suggests that club sports be allows to use McDonough after the new athletic center is built and that the hospital not expand onto North Kehoe.
The big ticket item in the SLR1999 was the complete dearth of funding for student organizations on campus. Thus was created the student activities fee. Thirteen years, six points of reform, and a couple referenda later, the amount of money for student organizations isn’t as much of a problem as how it is allocated. One suggestion SLR2012 makes is putting the gift account under GUSA control. Currently donors can give money to “student activities” broadly defined, and the money goes to SAC. SLR2012 says the money should be allocated at the budget summit so more groups have access to the funds.
Also, SLR2012 says student groups should be able to audit themselves, but in order to do this, they need online access to their cost centers and timely charges by for space and such by other campus offices.
Finally on money, the SLR2012 suggests a referendum on whether or not students want to create a separate fee for the Spring Concert. It doesn’t actually call for the creation of the fee, but the report does throw the idea out there.
If passed, the Hoya would have tentatively severed its ties with the University (and, according to the Post, a University-funded $180,000 annual budget), so long as it could get two things by the end of the semester — Vice President for Student Affairs Todd Olson‘s support and a credit line from the Georgetown University Student Alumni Federal Credit Union.
According to a student close to the process, it was unclear if either condition was met as of Tuesday’s staff-wide vote, which failed to receive a super-majority’s worth of support despite approval from the paper’s board of directors. When asked why the vote failed, the student suggested “serious holes in the financial proposals.”
In 2009, when the Hoya was within days of independence, the University agreed to let the paper use its trademarked name, lease space on University-owned office space, and purchase a majority of its equipment for $1. However, it’s unclear if Hoya Editor in Chief Eamon O’Connor (COL ’12) sought a similar deal with this proposal.
Both Olson and GUASFCU CEO Katie Cohen (COL ’12) declined to comment about the Hoya‘s latest push for independence. O’Connor told the Post, “Our foremost institutional goal is to become an independent newspaper,” but also declined a request to elaborate on future plans.
Just like last year, Vox has compiled a guide to “news you can use”, or in other words, an excessively comprehensive review of last year’s important news stories. Today, we cover the on-campus issues that made headlines. Check in later this week for the year’s biggest crime stories.
Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice
In March, the United Feminists and H*yas for Choice created Plan A: Hoyas for Reproductive Justice. The campaign pushed the University to provide contraceptives, sex education, rape kits, the HPV vaccine, and informational resources on reproductive health. Plan A Hoyas also campaigned for less restrictive freedom of speech and expression policies.
Surprising no one, Vox has learned that the Hoya will submit a budget proposal to the Media Board for the 2010-2011 academic year. The decision, which was largely expected after the Hoya‘s Board of Directors chose to defer independence, was preceded early last week by a letter addressed to the Media Board, which was penned by the newly-elected Chair of the Board of Directors Kevin Barber.
In the letter, Barber blames “financial reasons related to the state of the national economy,” in addition to “the large additional expenses that independence would bring,” as the main factors that encouraged the Hoya to delay its dreams of independence.
“It wasn’t my individual decision to not go independent this summer,” Barber said Monday night. “It was a decision made by the outgoing Board of Directors, who decided that unless the financial environment changed, it wouldn’t be prudent to go independent … but I agree with them. I participated in the discussions about [independence.]”
While Barber says that he “does not anticipate any difficulties with the Media Board,” there could be a bumpy road ahead for the Hoya. In early March, the Voice‘s Galen Weber reported that the Media Board requested only $36,000 in funding—less money than the year before—because the Board “more or less operated on the assumption that the Hoya would become independent from the University within the next year.”
But, Barber seems optimistic about the Hoya‘s chances of getting its budget approved.
“We gave the Media Board no concrete indication about independence this year,” Barber claimed, adding that, “While I don’t know what [the Media Board's] status is now, I’ve heard that they requested as much money as in years past.”
Concerning the prospects of an independent Hoya down the road, Barber said, “We’ll do everything that we can to make independence in the summer of 2011 a possibility.”
Editor-in-Chief Marissa Amendolia supported Barber’s statement, saying, “Independence still remains a priority.”
After the jump is Barber’s complete letter to the Media Board.
In case ourcoverage of the Hoya‘s delayed independence (not to mention their news story, editorial and letter from the editor) left you confused about the Media Board’s logic, Vox has some of the memos that show the Media Board’s reasoning behind their sanctions.
First, we have the memo Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr sent on behalf of the Media Board to the leadership of the Hoya on April 22 announcing their sanctions:
According to emails obtained by the Voice, in mid-April the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action filed a complaint with Media Board, the funding board that oversees student media, over the Hoya‘s April Fools Issue. On April 22, Media Board issued sanctions, including a one year delay of the Hoya‘s planned independence.
The Hoya appealed Media Board’s ruling, citing their unwillingness to remain tied to the University, but their appeal was denied on June 16, documents show. A three person appeals board composed of Father Christopher Steck, S.J., GUSA President Calen Angert (MSB ’11), and Faculty Senate President Wayne Davis decided that Media Board had acted within their rights and that the ruling should not be overturned.
The Voice will have more information in our Friday issue.
The Hoya’s Independence movement has been in the works for almost five years now. In that time, that lovable bi-weekly rag has been doted on by corporate sponsors and potentially denied use of its own name by the University.
However, it seems like their efforts for Hoyapendence may be nearing fruition. In last Wednesday’s GUSA Senate meeting, one Senator remarked that The Hoya’s independence will relieve the Media Board of its greatest source of income, and largest expenditure.
In a conversation yesterday, Senator Matt Wagner (SFS `11) said that when the six University Funding Board meet on Feb. 11 to allot money to the six funding boards (of which the Media Board is one, and SAC, of Sophia Behnia fame, is another), the typically unobstrusive Media Board will take more time than usual to present its funding requests to the University:
“The Media Board is usually not even looked at for a lot of time because its requests are usually the same every year. But this time with the Hoya not being a big part of the picture, the picture—I assume the picture is going to be very different as their requests will not be the same.”
The suspense is almost unbearable, but in the meantime, you can join The Georgetown Heckler’s Jack Stuef in his solemn remembrance of the “Save the Hoya” movement.
Former Hoya Editor-in-Chief Nick Timiraos (CAS ’06), now a professional journalist, e-mails a comment on my take on the Hoya’s attempts to go independent:
The Hoya’s one-time deficit (I think it was in 2001, but you’d have to check) is actually the genesis for the independence push. Why? Two reasons: First, if The Hoya had been allowed to keep even a portion of its annual profits, the university wouldn’t have had to bail anybody out. The business would have been able to operate the way businesses normally do—saving a share of income to pay for a year in the red, brought on by, say, an advertising slump. (It’s how The Corp is able to operate even in years when it loses money). Second, that one-year loss should never have happened in the first place if the university (read: the media board) had been doing its job. The losses stemmed primarily from advertising checks that were never cashed by the ad manager (and I don’t know the story there, whether it was incompetence/negligence/a second semester senior who was lazy). The media board—the “publisher” of The Hoya—was asleep at the switch and never asked why checks weren’t being cashed. They simply didn’t notice. (So much for that tired old line that the university is some sort of “protector” of the newspaper.) Why didn’t the editors of the paper notice? I wish they had, but even that would have been difficult. Why? The university didn’t allow the newspaper to access its own bank statements (because of some red tape way that students could be allowed to log onto faculty access, the program where such accounts are kept). Yes, this sounds like a great way to run a business.
In sum, the university failed to prevent losses that never should have happened, and may have made them worse. They then used those losses as an excuse for punishing future staffs of the newspaper by denying them any use of their profits. I could go on, but I think the point is clear here—the university sees the newspaper as a “club,” when it really wants to be, and ought to be, a business.
This is a really roundabout way of saying that independence isn’t just about “cash money” as your post asserts, though I don’t dispute that it’s a key driver. It’s more simple: the staff will always care more about the newspaper than the university will.
Nick makes a good point about savings and the difficulties of accessing financial records, but I think it goes a little to far to blame the University for failing to ensure that Hoya staff did their jobs. That said, I think my argument about the Hoya‘s motivations is still pretty strong. Nick says that the Hoya wants to be a business, but I’d say that a newspaper, especially a college newspaper, ought to want to be something different than that: a public trust and a voice for students. Not that the Hoya—or the Voice, for that matter—can’t be both a public trust and a business, but independence, at least at Georgetown, doesn’t seem to affect the former goal all that much.
Our friendly rivals at the Hoya seem interested in again renewing the fight for independence from the University, as this GWU Hatchet story reports. While the University’s decision to file for a trademark on the Hoya‘s name is a new step, nothing else has changed since last year, when the University put the kibosh on the Hoya‘s plans to flee University ownership by threatening legal action over the name. Voice writers, for reasons of journalistic principle and neighborly behavior, havesupported the Hoya‘s efforts; I certainly do. But reading that article in the Hatchet, I thought it worthwhile to correct a misrepresentation by our more pedigreed newspaper brethren: Their desire to become independent doesn’t really have much to do with journalism, and it has everything do with cash money.
Georgetown administration doesn’t interfere or censor the journalism that students here do, at least not while I’ve been at the Voice—and we look critically at most everything that Georgetown administrators are up to. The only thing we are forbidden from doing, as the article notes, is publishing advertisements advocating condom manufacturers or pro-choice groups. But we can advocate for them in our self-created content as much as we like (something the Voice generally does). So while it would be nice to sell those ads, and in principle newspapers should be independent, don’t get the impression that our friends at the Hoya are sacrificing themselves on the altar of the first amendment.
Basically, they want their profits. On average, the Hoya’s budget is about $250,000. Before their last independence bid, one Hoya editor said they gave as much as $70,000 in profit back to the University, but that bid led to renegotiations about how much the University can take, which could now be as little as $16,000. The rest is spent by the Hoya on the various expenses of putting out their paper. The Voice‘s annual budget is usually just under $50,000, and we expect to make about $27,000 of that in ad revenue; the rest will come from University grants (thanks, Media Board!). Other University media, including Ye Domesday Book, WGTB, GUTV, The Fire This time, etc…, also receive Media Board grants. The Hoya‘s kick-back goes toward all of these grants, and the University provides the rest. (And, as the the University notes in the Hatchet story, it hasn’t always been this way—the University bailed the Hoya out of a deficit a few years ago).
The Hoya wants to keep their money and devote it towards resources for their paper, which could include more and higher salaries for their staff, more cameras and computers, prettier paper, a larger travel budget—all the things that newspaper folk desire. It’s completely reasonable. But it isn’t a fight about censorship.
In fact, the only time I’ve heard about censorship issues on real news content at Georgetown concerned a story a Voice reporter uncovered about certain legacy students getting huge admissions preferences. The parents of the students threatened to sue the paper if it printed their names, and Georgetown told our editors they wouldn’t defend them in court. The story ran without the names, and was weaker for it. While this is certainly a bad break, and bad for journalism, here’s a question: Could an independent college newspaper have survived the legal battle successfully?