Colo. State board OKs plan for student media independence

COLORADO — Colorado State University announcedTuesday that it will officially separate its student media organizations fromthe university, registering them as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

The plan was approved during a Colorado State University Board of Governorsmeeting in Fort Collins. The board considered two recommendations released May 1by a university committee composed of students, advisors and faculty members.

According to the announcement, Student Media, which is composed of theRocky Mountain Collegian, College Avenue Magazine, KCSU radio andCTV television, plans to operate as a non-profit corporation by the beginning ofthe fall semester.

“It’s going to be a really tight deadline to go non-profit. ButI think that we can do it,” said Collegian Editor in Chief AaronMontoya.

Greg Luft, chairman of the university’s journalism department, saidthe two options presented to the Board of Governors were to leave the currentstudent media organization the way it was or to re-create Student Media as anon-profit corporation, separate from the university.

“I think that the committee felt that the 501(c)(3) was a viableoption. It is done at a lot of universities and has a successful trackrecord,” Luft said.

Larry Stewart, a former Student Media director, was named interim presidentof Student Media.

“We need to set up the infrastructure the university used to provide.That is really my main concern. All of the logistics for Student Media have toin place by August 1,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he plans to serve as president of Student Media until agoverning board of directors can be formed. Then, Stewart says, he will offerhis resignation.

“We are setting up Student Media as an entirely independentcorporation from the university,” Stewart said. “There will be anoperating contract between Colorado State and Student Media, but itsindependence is not up for negotiation.”

Montoya shared Stewart’s confidence that Student Media will remainfree from university control.

“I’m not really worried about it. I feel as though theorganization of Student Media will not provide so close of an affiliation thatwould allow the university to edit our content,” Montoya said.

According to a press release issued by Colorado State, Student Media willreceive an annual fee of $500,000 for operational services as well as $450,000in transitional funds for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. In addition, StudentMedia will receive another $250,000 in assistance from its already existingauxiliary reserves.

The decision to separate was a long process, Stewart said.

“It has been proposed before, but it was decided that making StudentMedia a non-profit just wasn’t right at the time,” Stewartsaid.

The latest and successful push for creating a 501(c)(3) came aftercontroversy swirled around a Sept. 21 editorial — which read, “TaserThis…Fuck Bush” — in the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

However, Luft said the recommendation to the Board of Governors to form the501(c)(3) was less a reaction to the editorial than a result of the dissolvedproposal by Gannett Inc, owner of The Coloradoan and national newspaperUSA Today, to purchase the Collegian.

“The editorial did come up in our meeting, but it wasn’t a bigpoint,” Luft said.