COLORADO — The board of trustees at the University of Northern Colorado has voted to completely eliminate funding for the university’s student newspaper — a move the newspaper’s staff has dubbed a retaliation against the paper’s editorial content.
The trustees gave final approval in June to a proposal from the Student Representative Council to deny The Mirror‘s request for close to $75,000 from the university.
The elimination of university funding for the upcoming year would result in a 29 percent decrease in the newspaper’s total budget, which Mirror adviser Paula Cobler said will have serious implications for the paper. The funding The Mirror receives from the university is from fees students pay, in part, to support campus organizations.
Cobler said she believes the decision to eliminate university funding for the newspaper represents a desire on the part of some student government officials to punish the newspaper staff for running editorials slamming the student government.
Last year, the administration announced that student government representatives would be given three years to reduce student fees by 15 percent. Student government members sought to implement the first third of the reductions this year, in part by eliminating funding for The Mirror. University of Northern Colorado students paid $711 each in student fees — in addition to the $2,155 in in-state undergraduate tuition — during the 2000-01 academic year.
Cobler said student government officials took the easy way out by cutting some programs entirely instead of adopting across-the-board cuts 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’s vice president of university relations when the proposed student-fee budget was adopted, defended the council’s recommendation to cut the newspaper’s funding, saying the decision had nothing to do with the paper’s editorial content.
Arakawa said The Mirror‘s funding for the upcoming year was eliminated because the paper had close to $100,000 in unspent money that had accumulated during the past several years, rendering additional allocations this year unnecessary. He added that student government representatives did not intend the elimination of funding to be permanent.
Ken McConnellogue, the university’s communications director, said the administration had a ‘hands-off’ attitude towards the student-run fee allocation process.
‘The administration feels it has to honor the student process of how they distribute their funds,’ McConnellogue said.
Cobler said in July that the paper’s board of directors would determine an appropriate response during its annual meeting in August. But Cobler said she expected that the newspaper would accept the funding cut for one year, adding that she would recommend to the board that it pursue a lawsuit if funding is not restored in the fall of 2002.
‘We will be okay for a year,’ she said. ‘But past that, we will not be okay.’