COLORADO — Colorado State University officials plan topresent a proposal next month to the university system’s Board of Governors thatwould convert the school’s entire student media department into an independentnonprofit corporation.
A 16-member advisory committee endorsed that concept in its May 1 report.
“While it would require a tremendous effort in terms of all the planningand re-organization, [the nonprofit model] may ultimately resolve difficultentanglements that come from the university publisher relationship that would bemore effectively resolved through an external publishing board,” the committeeconcluded.
Colorado State formed the committee in February to consider proposals torestructure the student newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian.Commercial media giant Gannett — owner of USA Today — hadapproached the school in January with a proposal to buy the Collegian,sparking strong opposition from students. Earlier in the school year, the
Collegian had drawn national attention and criticism by printing afour-word, large-print editorial: “Taser this … Fuck Bush.”
Although the panel initially planned to assess only the Collegian‘sstructure, committee members broadened that mandate to include the whole studentmedia department, which also houses College Avenue magazine, KCSU radioand CTV. The panel concluded that it was essential for all four outlets toremain together and recommended the nonprofit model.
The report said an alternative model — strengthening the existingBoard of Student Communications and bolstering it with an external,non-university appeals process — also would be acceptable, but a majorityof the panel concluded the nonprofit model would be best.
Committee chairwoman Blanche Hughes, the school’s vice president of studentaffairs, recommended to university President Larry Penley on May 6 thatColorado State adopt the nonprofit option, and Penley authorized Hughes toprepare an implementation plan to present at the June Board of Governorsmeeting, according to a school press release.
The presentation to the board will focus mainly on the legal details of thepotential conversion, said Anne Hudgens, executive director of campus life.Hudgens said no timeline has been set for how long the conversion would take ifapproved.
“I think there’s an understanding that it would be a multiyear process tocomplete,” Hudgens said.
Aaron Montoya, the incoming Collegian editor in chief, said theendorsement of the nonprofit model is “a small victory for us at student media,”but he said much would depend on the implementation details.
“This could turn into something completely different than intended,”Montoya said.