The changes were recommended by the Media Improvement Committee, charged by Transfer Senator Adam Powers and co-chaired by current Associate Vice President of Student Organizations and Vice President of Finance and Resources-elect Andrew Ang, along with Mania Magazine Editor in Chief Rose Eveleth.
Quarterly publications will now be limited to a hard $4,000 per quarter, and annual publications will be eligible to receive a maximum of $6,000 per year. However, cheaper publications will be required to stay within 10 percent of the quarterly average of their 2009-10 allocations, unless special circumstances arise — such as an increase in pages per issue, or more frequent distribution dates. The new guidelines state that funding requests exceeding the 10-percent margin must be defended by three quotes from competing printer companies.
Ang said the revisions are in response to over-allocations that occurred under the council’s previous system. In the beginning of the year, the council set aside $45,000 for media-org funding, but subsequently overallocated by over $20,000.
“The original system wasn’t really a cap — just suggestions that people could choose not to follow,” Ang said. “This has concrete numbers on how much money each organization gets per quarter.”
Ang said the new limits are based on operating costs reported by the organizations over the last several years.
“We looked at the allocations over the past few years — both for publications that published quarterly and publications that published annually — and saw that the allocations per quarter per org ranged from $3,000 to $5,000 dollars for quarterly, and $6,000 to $9,000 for yearly publications,” Ang said. “So that’s how we came up with those cap numbers.”
Under the new guidelines, quarterly publications will receive $12,000 a year, but yearly publications will only be able to receive $6,000. Ang said this was because yearly publications typically only print a few more pages than quarterly publications.
“Yearly publications don’t print the equivalent of all the quarterly publications once a year,” he said. “They print once, with less content, but typically higher quality.”
Eveleth said the new guidelines emphasize fiscal responsibility by requiring all organizations to present three price quotes, ensuring they receiving a fair price.
“We took out production deadlines, partially because they’re somewhat arbitrary, and every publication is different in that no publication publishes on the same schedule — and sometimes things fall through, and if you can’t publish on schedule, you get a hard time,” Eveleth said. “I think that most media orgs are in favor of it. I personally talked to a few media organizations, and they said they read it and were happy with it.”
A.S. President Utsav Gupta said he thought the cap was set too high.
“It might not seem like a lot of money individually, but $4,000 under our overall count is only enough to fund five media organizations a quarter, and if you want to fund all of these with this cap, that could be $60,000,” Gupta said. “I know it might not seem popular, but we have limited sets of resources and we can’t allocate like that — which is why I would ask for additional reflection on the cap.”
Eveleth said the number was meant as an extreme, not the average amount of money allocated. She stressed that the data came from figures previously collected by the A.S. Council.
“The $4,000 number comes from the actual data in the past,” Eveleth said. “If we set the cap any lower, we would be hurting the major newspapers on campus.”
The new guidelines also allow student media orgs to request funding for one additional issue during a quarter they did not originally request money for — though the request may not exceed $3,000. Powers said this allows for emergency issues to be released under last-minute circumstances, such as Winter Quarter’s Black Student Union crisis.
According to Ang, there may be exceptions made if organizations wish to request more money. Either the AVP of Student Orgs or Vice President of Finance and Resources — the position Ang will take next week — would be able to allocate more money as needed. However, Ang said he would recommend that the cap not be broken.
“The AVP and VP can extend beyond these rules, but it has to be a specific circumstance,” Ang said. “They have to come in and show proof to the SOFAB that you have a publisher — show us your budget, your plan, your number of pages — before we’ll allocate more than the cap.”
Eveleth echoed that more money would be handed out only in specific circumstances,.
One example of a publication with a high start-up cost is No 15 Magazine, which received nearly $9,000 in student fees to print 3,000 copies of its first issue. No 15 Magazine Editor in Chief Kevin Nguyen acknowledged that, if his organization had tried to request funding prior to these changes in policy, it would have hindered their publication process.
“We could’ve still had something printed out, but it would be a lot harder to get started,” Nguyen said. “I think it definitely puts a little strain on new publications, because starting up is really tough — especially if you don’t have enough funds for it.”
However, Nguyen said he is in favor of the new funding cap, and supports the flexibility the new system offers to startup publications.
“There definitely needs to be some regulations about that, because people can be requesting so much money here and there,” he said. “But I think that keeping the startup money — allowing new publications to start up — is a great thing. I think it’s definitely fair what they did.”
Additional reporting by Regina Ip.
Readers can contact Angela Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org