Colo. State signs agreement to separate student media as nonprofit corporation

COLORADO — Colorado State University released Friday theformal agreement between the university and the Rocky Mountain Student MediaCorporation (SMC), a new nonprofit organization formed from CSU’s former studentmedia department.

A panel of Colorado State students, officials and professors, and communityexperts recommended the student media department separate from the university inMay, and the university’s Board of Governors decided to follow the suggestion inJune. SMC is waiting for approval from the Internal Revenue Service fornonprofit status, which could take several months and will make the corporationtax-exempt, but it will act as a nonprofit beginning Aug. 1, according to theoperating agreement.

SMC will be a separate entity from the university with a governing board offive students and four non-students. The university will appoint two members andtwo will come from the community, said Larry Steward, President of SMC and one of the community board members.

The agreement outlines SMC’s role with the university and details specificguidelines the nonprofit must meet to receive funding. The agreement specifieshow many times a year the Collegiate must publish but holds no controlover editorial content.

SMC will run the newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian; magazine, College Avenue; radio station, KCSU; and television station, CTV. Theuniversity will provide space for the nonprofit to lease along with $1 millionover the course of the 2009 fiscal year. The agreement breaks down how thefunding will be given to SMC beginning July 28 and ending Jan. 15.

“It separates the university of content issues, but doesn’t separateit from financial issues,” Steward said.

Stewart said one of the concerns when forming the corporation was studentsalary, and the possible loss of student positions and influence. The agreementshows no decrease in salary or positions for students.

According to the agreement, the university and the nonprofit will meet inMay 2009 and May 2010 to reexamine and discuss funding for the following years.

“The overall intent is to continue to have a long-term relationship withthe independent student media organization to provide information to students,”CSU Dean of Students Anne Hudgens said.

Talk of the separation began in February, when the university formed acommittee to consider options to restructure the Collegian after thepaper garnered national attention for a controversial editorial reading “Taserthis … Fuck Bush” in September and Gannett — owner of USA Today— considered buying the newspaper in January.

The proposal to form the SMC nonprofit was “recommended with the support ofstudents,” Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes said in a pressrelease. “The committee that reviewed potential student media arrangements feltthat a non-profit organization would best support student interest andeducation.”

SMC hopes to be more student-oriented and student-focused, Collegian

Editor in Chief Aaron Montoya said.

“I hope that it gives student media a chance to be a little moreautonomous,” Montoya said.

The Collegian continued to print updates for students throughout thesummer, but the paper has not received much feedback from readers. With schoolstarting back Aug. 25, SMC does not want returning students to notice adifference, Montoya said.

So far the students involved with organizations are pleased with theswitch, Montoya said.

“Things have gone the way we hoped they would in that we’re moving towardsbecoming a private entity,” Montoya said. “That was our main goal.”