Ariz. budget prohibits

ARIZONA — Arizona’s budget for the fiscal year 2006-2007 contains a footnote that prohibits the state from giving any money to university student publications.

The footnote reads: “The appropriated monies shall not be used to support any student newspaper.” The footnote, seen by some as a symbolic measure, was signed by Gov. Janet Napolitano on May 20. The impact of the footnote is unknown because the student newspapers the footnote is meant to affect — those at Arizona State University, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University — say they do not currently receive state money.

The footnote only applies to money the universities receive through the legislature.

Mark Woodhams, director of student media for the University of Arizona, home of the Daily Wildcat, said it is not clear to him how the footnote would be enforced.

“It came out of right field,” Woodhams said. “It seems to be a heavy-handed attitude towards what some people think student papers shouldn’t be publishing.”

The footnote was first proposed in March after two university newspapers published stories dealing with sexuality and nudity.

Rep. Russell Pearce, (R-Mesa) chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, inserted the footnote into the packet of bills that makes up the budget after some Arizona residents were unhappy with a 2004 issue of the Northern Arizona University weekly Lumberjack, which published a column about oral sex. An issue of the Arizona State University weekly State Press magazine, which featured a front-page photograph of a woman’s breast with a pierced nipple, also upset some residents.

Barrett Marson, director of communications for the Arizona House of Representatives, said the footnote would give university newspapers more independence.

“Student newspapers have said all along that they are independent and should be free from interference from the state,” Marson said. “Rep. Pearce agrees with that, and if you don’t want meddling from people who write the budget, then you shouldn’t take their money either.”

Gov. Napolitano did not return calls for comment.

James Weinstein, professor of Constitutional Law at Arizona State University, he thinks the footnote is not good policy.

“It’s awful and it runs contrary to any notion of student academic freedom,” Weinstein said. “To cut off all funding because you don’t like what the newspaper is printing is not good constitutional policy.”

–Rebecca McNulty

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