This week Student Government Association released a proposal to decrease The Concordian’s funding from $12 per student to $10.50 per student for next school year. The proposed decrease in funding amounts to about $3,500 per year. This comes after last year’s reduction of nearly $5,000.
If you are reading this, you likely know many of the benefits of having a student newspaper. Every week, The Concordian reaches more than 1,300 members of the campus community through our print edition and website. The paper provides a service to students by keeping them informed, sparking discussions, providing a rough draft of history for the college archives and promoting accountability of leaders on campus. As we saw a few weeks ago, students were disturbed when this very service was taken from them after an employee in admissions censored the paper. This instance showed just how much the students appreciate their paper and want their voices to be heard.
One of the main rationales reported to us for the funding cut this year is the size of The Concordian’s reserve fund, which is healthy after years of careful spending. It is unfortunate this responsible fiscal behavior should be the cause of funding cuts rather than wasteful spending.
With the proposed reduction, we are being told to instead use our reserve fund for operating expenses. Fortunately, these reserve funds mean that you, as a member of the student body, will be able to receive the same number of issues of the newspaper throughout the academic year as in previous years, despite the reduction in funding.
However, in the long-term it is unsustainable to operate out of a reserve fund, and after a while it will be depleted, meaning that we will no longer be able to provide the same amount of content and issues or maintain the same quality of newspaper for the student body. If the proposal passes, The Concordian will do its best to deliver a high-quality student newspaper, regardless of its funding level.
The decrease in funding is not my main concern either though; rather, it is the process which SGA uses to make funding decisions. It is unfortunate to say that the current budgeting and presentation process that SGA uses to make budgetary decisions is completed away from the campus community. As it stands, the SGA president relays information to the rest of SGA on behalf of the organizations who receive funds. Then this committee makes recommendations to the Forum for the coming year’s budget.
I would propose that SGA make a concerted effort to employ good government practices and transparency to all of their funding hearings and activities. It is understandable that committees may be hesitant to hold meetings open to students or let everyone hear their reasoning. However, allowing the student body to witness this take place, and perhaps even allowing organizational leaders to present on their own behalf in front of the committee, would create a more open and fair process where all students would be able to see the budget pressures and enrollment changes that at times necessitate cuts. It would also enable these student leaders to hear from their constituents and respond on the bread and butter issues that affect students. Most importantly, an open and transparent process would allow students to be engaged in their governance and to see what weighs on the decisions of our student government.