NEBRASKA— An effort to overturn a $20,000 funding cut to the Daily Nebraskan, the independent student newspaper at the University of Nebraska, fell one vote short at a university student government meeting Wednesday.
The paper reports that despite questions on the motives behind Student Body President Spencer Hartman’s veto of the Daily Nebraskan’s requested fee allocation, student senators failed to meet the required two-thirds majority to overturn Hartman’s decision.
The student newspaper receives funding allocated by the university student government each year. This year, the publication requested the same $134,882 it was granted last academic year – around $3 of the $611 each student pays per semester– and was initially only granted $114,650, amounting to a $20,000 budget cut.
Student senators voted in a March 9 meeting to amend the student fee bill and restore the Daily Nebraskan’s funding to the requested amount, but Hartman vetoed the bill two days later without offering an explanation until Wednesday’s meeting.
According to the Daily Nebraskan, Hartman read a statement explaining his veto, which said he “supports the Daily Nebraskan and maintains that stance today,” but said the paper should dip into its reserve funds to adjust for the necessary budget cut.
“It is for these reasons that I believe the Daily Nebraskan should come in line with the philosophy that this senate has applied to all the other fee users of fiscal responsibility,” Hartman’s statement read.
Lani Hanson, editor-in-chief of the Daily Nebraskan, previously told the SPLC that student government officials said they were making an effort to tighten student fees to address a state budget crisis in Nebraska and predicted tuition increases. However, the budget cut to the Daily Nebraskan would only save students around $0.50.
The paper reports Hartman did not specify exactly how much money his veto would take from the Daily Nebraskan’s funding allocation, but has maintained from the beginning his veto was only regarding the amendment for the $20,000 budget increase.
In a staff editorial written after the effort to override Hartman’s veto failed, the Daily Nebraskan wrote that while disappointed with the outcome, it will continue to serve the 25,000 students at the university.
“The truth is, we’re shocked. We’re frustrated. We’re exhausted. The truth is it’s not over. The truth is we have served this campus for 116 years, and the truth is that will never change,” the editorial reads. “The truth is, no matter what one person says or does or believes, we aren’t going anywhere. We will continue to serve the 25,000 students who deserve a university newspaper that informs them, tells their stories and holds their leaders accountable. And that’s the truth.”
There is still one option left for the Daily Nebraskan to receive its entire requested funding: an appeal to the university Student Court, which will rule in a March 28 hearing whether Hartman’s line-item veto of the Daily Nebraskan’s funding is constitutional.
According to the Daily Nebraskan, if Hartman’s veto is found to be unconstitutional, the court could overturn the veto and restore paper’s funding to the originally-requested $134,882. However it could also rule that Hartman’s veto was for the entire funding of the student newspaper.
If that was the case, Hartman said during Wednesday’s meeting that he would not let the Daily Nebraskan be fully defunded.
SPLC staff writer Conner Mitchell can be reached by email or (202) 974-6318
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