Ban on newsrack advertising temporarily lifted at California college

The student newspaper staff at El Camino College in Los Angeles will cash $25,000 in newsstand advertising revenue checks previously considered untouchable because of a college policy prohibiting commercial advertising on campus.

For the past three years, Jolene Combs, faculty adviser of the student newspaper, said The Union has been trapped in bureaucratic gridlock with the college administration. Checks piled up as the newspaper’s effort to turn a profit collided with college officials’ goal to keep the campus free of advertising.

Combs said she assumed the college had abandoned its 1968 policy prohibiting campus advertising when she signed a contract in 2001 to upgrade seven campus newsstands to sturdier models with more advertising spaces.

But a few weeks later, an advertisement for a rival school’s pre-law program appeared on one of the stands and “caused a ruckus,” said Harold Tyler, director of student activities. Combs said the college’s president, citing the 1968 policy, invalidated the contract – but that did not sit well with the vendor, who continued sending checks each month even though the college had suspended Combs’ authority to cash them. The ads continued to be placed in the newsracks.


Combs said the school enforces its advertising policy inconsistently, granting her permission to install the seven newsstands but invalidating her contract when the offending advertisement appeared.


Two weeks ago, Combs met with James Schwartz, the new interim vice president of academic affairs, who agreed to help free the advertising money from limbo so it could benefit the student newspaper.

“I told them I would do my best to help them because [the situation] seems ridiculous,” Schwartz said. “It’s an excellent newspaper and I realize they have to raise part of their money through advertising.”

The newspaper will keep 15 percent of the money and the rest will bolster the campus auxiliary services fund, which subsidizes all student clubs and organizations.