After conflict, senators cut funding to paper

NEW YORK — Even though it may have cost a student newspaper atthe University at Buffalo nearly 13 percent of its annual budget, Erin Shultzsaid that if she had to do it over again, she still would publish articles thatcalled attention to the spending habits of the school’s studentgovernment.

The reduction in student fees allocated to the student papercame as a result of numerous articles criticizing the student government, saidShultz, who is the former editor in chief of the Spectrum.

Studentassociation senators voted in May to eliminate almost $34,000 in funding for thenewspaper for the 2004-2005 academic year.

I think that thisinvestigation into our funds has been a payback of sorts from certain members ofthe [student government],” Shultz said. “I absolutely think it’s retributionover our coverage this last year. It’s dirty — it was a political, dirtymove.”

George Zornick, current editor in chief of the newspaper, said thenewspaper has appealed the cut to a student government judiciary council, whichis expected to make a decision on whether it was within the student government’sconstitution to revoke the funding.Student Association President AnthonyBurgio said it is a conflict for the student government to fund a studentpublication.

“I agree with the senate’s decision that no studentgovernment should fund a student newspaper,” Burgio said. 

About fouryears ago, the undergraduate student body voted to allocate $1 to the newspaperas part of a subscription fee for every student on campus. 

The question, atleast from the paper’s end, is whether the senate had the power to make thedecision to cut the funding.

“I think it’s a way to censor the newspaperto make it look like you’re not really censoring the newspaper,” Shultz said.”They’re just hurting us enough that there’s a good chance we won’t be able toprint in the future.”

Without money from the student government, fundingfor the Spectrum’s $260,000 budget will come primarily from advertisingrevenue.

Courts have ruled that decisions on the allocation of studentfees to groups such as a student newspapers must remain viewpoint-neutral. If astudent government decides to cut funding to a student newspaper as retaliationfor the publication’s content, courts have ruled that would violate the FirstAmendment.

“This sends [us] a clear message: Watch what you’re doing,because we’re going to come after you,” Shultz said. 

Shultz said thenewspaper has received mixed support from the administration about the fundingcut.

“We’ve had several administrators who had come to us with positivesupport, but at the same point, there isn’t a hand to step in and fix it,”Shultz said.The University at Buffalo is a branch of the StateUniversity of New York.