Newspaper breezes past funding scare

VIRGINIA — The administration at James Madison University decided June 8 not to cut funding to the student newspaper, despite the urging of one member of the school’s board of visitors.

At a March 23 board of visitors meeting, board member Charles Cunningham asked the administration to prepare a report detailing the funding and operation of The Breeze, James Madison’s student newspaper.

The Breeze reported that Cunningham expressed concern that an insert the newspaper began publishing last year — called Turf — was not an appropriate ‘or positive representation’ of the university.

Breeze editor Julie Sproesser said the board discussed the prospect of eliminating the paper’s funding at a committee meeting on June 7. Sproesser said she did not know why board members decided not to cut funding because the issue was discussed during a closed session the next day.

Although he did not comment specifically on the discussion that occurred in the closed session, Cunningham said he still believes The Breeze should not receive money from the university.

‘I don’t think students should be expected to fund the newspaper against their will as a condition of getting an education,’ Cunningham said. ‘When you graduate from college, The New York Times and The Washington Post are not subsidized by the government.’

Cunningham said his opposition to university funding is not limited to The Breeze, but extends to all campus groups. He said he believes students never should be forced to financially support organizations they philosophically or ideologically oppose.

Despite the board’s decision, Cunningham said he would advocate eliminating funding for certain campus groups, including The Breeze, at the board’s next meeting in October.

‘This and other things I’m sure will be an issue for discussion,’ he said.

Sproesser said the newspaper receives approximately $36,000 — about 10 percent of its total budget — from the university each year. She said the paper could survive off of its advertising revenue if university funding is cut. But the paper would have a more difficult time coping if the university stops letting The Breeze use campus space and printing equipment free of charge, Sproesser said.

Sproesser said she has no plans to alter the paper’s editorial content but added that she will continue to monitor the situation.

‘We are just gonna kind of let it lie right now,’ she said. ‘We don’t really have a reason to bring it up unless someone else wants to talk about it.’