SUNY at Rockland student paper, student government come to agreement

NEW YORK — Student government leaders and staff members of the Outlook, the State University of New York at Rockland’s student newspaper, signed an agreement last week ending an ongoing funding conflict between the two organizations.

Under the agreement, the Outlook, which is funded through student fees and advertising revenue, will receive 6 percent of student government’s total collected student fees. It also states that the student government is not responsible for the finances or actions of the Outlook.

The compromise ends a long-term conflict that began last year when the two groups clashed over an existing agreement, which required newspaper staff members to present monthly reports on the newspaper’s activities. At the time, the student government also had control over how many issues were printed each year and how much newspaper employees were paid. Under the new agreement, student editors control the paper’s budget and printing schedule.

Ian Newman, the Outlook‘s adviser, said the stipulations were affecting the newspaper’s content. In a standoff last year, the student government locked staff members out of the newsroom after they began looking for funding sources other than student fees. After discussion with administrators and student leaders, staff members eventually regained access to the offices and negotiations resumed.

Newman said he is confident the new agreement will allow the paper to function independently from the influence of the student government.

“We’ve been fighting this for years,” he said. “There is true freedom of [the] press now.”

Debra Balestra, campus director of student involvement, said the student government is also satisfied with the agreement.