Last night’s Associated Students Legislative Council meeting focused on the organization’s budget, highlighting discrepancies between the groups’ funding and next year’s decreased honoraria.
Most of the discussion centered on the precarious future of The Bottom Line’s print edition as around 19 of its staff members presented their arguments to the council during public forum. TBL’s Executive Managing Editor Amanda Garcia requested $5,000 in addition to the $8,250 A.S. President Harrison Weber preliminarily allocated the publication for the 2012-2013 year.
Garcia said the amount would represent a 90 percent cut to TBL’s budget, which would force it to rethink its structure.
“We want the $8,000 to go solely towards printing, not salary and not honoraria; $8,250 is not even enough for us to print,” Garcia said. “We’re handing the paper out, engaging students. We should exist in print next year, not just online; we have an advantage in engaging students. We’re asking for you to allocate to us an extra $5,000 so we can have the $13,000 to go to print.”
Additionally, Garcia said the weekly publication is willing to fund itself independently but a print outlet will be necessary to secure such revenue as it has so far been unable to do so.
“We’re looking for advertising. You can’t cut a budget 90 percent and expect us to still be able to adopt this model, though,” Garcia said. “You need a print newspaper to have advertisements.”
A.S. Associate Director for Media Elizabeth Robinson, a former TBL advisor, said it is important to protect campus media and ensure diversity within news sources.
“I would encourage you to think about our history in this country as a model that understands we need multiple voices and media, not that one newspaper or radio station was enough,” Robinson said. “Just as good journalism relies on multiple perspectives, the more we have the more we are informed, the more people can make good decisions. I know you have a hard task with the budget process, but I know how initially fragile TBL was. Several other papers have failed for more than just a lack of money.”
Weber nonetheless defended his original proposal and planned cuts for the upcoming year, citing that none of the student government’s boards, committees or councils received the full amount they requested.
“I do think it’s important, but in terms of providing an outlet for A.S. to become more transparent, it is not an A.S. newsletter — it’s another publication,” Weber said. “To me it doesn’t seem sustainable. We would have to dissolve many BCCs in the budget to give them their request of $5,000.”
Discussions on the fee cuts for TBL led to the broader issues of amending the Honoraria Bill and began deliberations on the proposed budget for the 2012-2013 school year.
A.S. Attorney General Dina Varshavsky said cutting all honoraria would not place undue burden on students as she has personally been able to hold a part-time job, work for A.S. and complete her duties as a student.
As of press time, the council was still in debate over the Honoraria Bill and had not further discussed budget issues.