University approves student government’s decision to eliminate newspaper’s funding

COLORADO – The board of trustees at the University ofNorthern Colorado voted on Friday to completely eliminate fundingfor the university’s student newspaper — a move the newspaper’sstaff has dubbed a retaliation against the paper’s editorial content.

The trustees gave final approval to a proposal from the StudentRepresentative Council to deny The Mirror’s request forclose to $75,000 from the university, which is located in thesmall town of Greeley.

The elimination of university funding for the upcoming yearwould result in a 29 percent decrease in the newspaper’s totalbudget, which Mirror adviser Paula Cobler said will haveserious implications for the paper. The funding The Mirrorreceives from the university is from fees students pay to supportcampus organizations.

Cobler said she believes the decision to eliminate universityfunding for the newspaper represents a desire on the part of somestudent government officials to punish the newspaper staff forrunning editorials slamming the student government.

Last year, the administration announced that student governmentrepresentatives would be given three years to reduce student feesby 15 percent. Student government members sought to implementthe first third of the reductions this year, in part by eliminatingfunding for The Mirror. University of Northern Coloradostudents paid $711 each in student fees during the 2000-01 academicyear.

Cobler said student government officials took the easy wayout by cutting some programs entirely instead of adopting across-the-boardcuts aimed at eliminating inefficiency.

"The students in [student government] change every year,so I think some of them are a little short-sighted about things,"she said.

But Chadd Arakawa, who was the Student Representative Council’svice president of university relations when the proposed student-feebudget was adopted, defended the council’s recommendation to cutthe newspaper’s funding, saying the decision had nothing to dowith the paper’s editorial content.

Arakawa said The Mirror’s funding for the upcoming yearwas eliminated because the paper had close to $100,000 in unspentmoney that had accumulated during the past several years, renderingadditional allocations this year unnecessary. He added that studentgovernment representatives did not intend the elimination of fundingto be permanent.

The text of the proposal states that funding is being cut becauseof "the large roll forward of the program totaling in excessof $100,000, which will allow the program to sustain this reduction"and also because of the paper’s "lack of accountability tothe student body as the Student Media Corporation operates asan independent business."

Ken McConnellogue, the university’s communications director,said the administration had a "hands-off" attitude towardsthe student-run fee allocation process.

"The administration feels it has to honor the studentprocess of how they distribute their funds," McConnelloguesaid.

But he said the administration recognizes the important roleThe Mirror plays on campus, adding that Hank Brown, theuniversity’s president, had met with the heads of the collegeof arts and sciences and the journalism school to find ways toaid the newspaper.

Cobler said the paper’s board of directors would determinean appropriate response during its annual meeting at the end ofJuly.