News outlets have a longstanding tradition of acting as a check and balance for governing bodies. At The Dixie Sun News, our goal is to inform the public of the goings-on at Dixie State University, find the truth and report it accurately, fairly and in a timely manner.
A campus news team is an essential piece of any university. So, we were rightly concerned at the beginning of the month when, with only a few hours notice, we were told the Student Fee Allocation Committee, which comprises primarily members of student government, had made the decision to halve our funding in coming semesters and that they’d be presenting such at the Truth in Tuition meeting that day.
We could use stronger words. Emotions ran high at the Dixie Sun when we received the news. Some of us were worried about the future of the campus newspaper, some were saddened by the prospect of being unable to do what we do at our best, and all of us were angry at what we see as a mishandling of the process.
We were given functionally no time to defend ourselves; the committee had very little real idea of how our organization functions; there was no hard data in favor of their proposition, and the timing of it all reeked of some form of reprisal for reporting verifiable truth.
Shortly before the Truth in Tuition meeting, seven students on the staff were denied funding from the student senate for a professional conference. This is a conference that representatives of the Dixie Sun attends annually, and they have had no trouble in the past receiving a portion of funding for the trip from the senate. With these two events happening in such rapid succession, we are left wondering about support for the Dixie Sun on campus.
We’d love to give student government the benefit of the doubt here and assume this entire thing is just poor timing and even poorer communication, but such an assumption leads to equally concerning questions about the competence of those involved with the committee.
We’re happy to report that the committee’s decision to halve our funding was reversed the following day, stating that more information was required to make such a decision and we would be up for review again in the coming year.
While we are grateful to be able to continue reporting the news as we have done in the past, we are worried the importance of campus news doesn’t seem to resonate with our governing body.
A word on fees would be helpful. Every semester, students pay fees that support various organizations on campus.
The Dixie Sun receives $1 from every student to operate, pay scholarships, print the newspaper, produce the broadcast and use our various equipment and programs that make news reporting in the modern age doable. Student fees have increased regularly in past semesters. We get by on this fee and have not requested any increases in the last 15 years. Halving it to a paltry 50 cents per student would put us in a world of trouble and limit our capacity to bring you the news.
Troubling to us is the fact other organizations received increases to the their budgets that were not requested. We respect and admire these organizations, but are unsure why their value and validity is a higher priority than our own.
The entire thing feels mishandled and done without proper process. Our worry is if we have no protections from such action in the future, then who does? Could the student government decide that your favorite club or organization isn’t valuable enough to the university and cut your funding without notice?
What are their bylaws on this? Student Body President Ezra Hainsworth said student government is revising policies based on what happened, but we still don’t know how student government was operating in the first place.
Why did the senate decide to have us front our own money to travel and learn at a professional development conference when they have stated to us that their purpose is to fund such? When we reached out and asked for clarification, we were given explanations that aren’t consistent with policy or weren’t responded to at all.
We feel it is our responsibility to bring these issues to the knowledge of the campus at large. There is either a breakdown in communication within our governing body or outright antagonism directed at your local news source. We want everyone on campus to know that we serve an essential function, and we will be unable to do our jobs as well without proper funding.
Our reason for doing what we do is you, reader. Without an audience, the news has little meaning. We’re grateful for your patronage and interest. We do it all for you, and we beg for your support in coming semesters.