Hits and Misses

Balance is not bias

Tuesday, the U Board of Trustees passed the Sustainable Campus Initiative and its attached $2.50 student fee increase contingent on the same version of the bill being passed in the Senate and House of Representatives of the Associated Students of the University of Utah. We have written before that we are in support of this initiative, but the way in which some ASUU leaders have conducted themselves has been disappointing and counterproductive.

Constant accusations that The Daily Utah Chronicle has covered the proposal in a biased fashion are unprofessional and untrue. Although we maintain that mistakes were made in gauging student support, our editorial board supports the initiative. ASUU President Patrick Reimherr has even repeatedly accused a reporter of lying about receiving hundreds of e-mails about the increase. He not only implied this at the Trustees meeting, but flat-out said that the reporter lied in an e-mail to ASUU Senators and House representatives. The e-mail said, “The writer has clearly some deep rooted bias that has even interrupted his ability to report accurately and fairly. If there are over 800 e-mails to the Chronicle writer, why are there only nine comments on the comment board of the article?” Questioning the personal integrity of a reporter is a sorry attempt to disguise the fact that you’ve made only half-cocked attempts to gauge student support.

Blaming the media is old hat. Reimherr and his colleagues seem to think reports dealing with their agenda should ignore the opposition in order to be considered accurate. Over and over they have thrown out accusations of bias without pointing to any specific wording.

Sustainability fee blame game: Miss

Between a rock and a hard place

In the same meeting, the Trustees voted to increase tuition by more than 9 percent this fall. Although a tuition increase is never welcome news, the Trustees’ decision is reasonable considering the U is facing a 17.5 percent state budget cut.

To make the tuition increase more bearable, the U is setting aside an additional $700,000 for need-based scholarships. U President Michael Young also committed to provide more information about financial aid to students.

Even with a 9 percent increase in tuition, the U is still below the national average for university tuition. Now that tuition will be raised, we encourage the Trustees to stick with their resolve to keep tuition as low as possible in the future. Encouraging financial aid is a hopeful gesture to students who should remember the U’s tuition rate is a considerable bargain.

Offsetting tuition increase with financial aid: Hit

Publication fee approved, purpose unclear

The Trustees also voted to approve a publications student fee increase of $1.34. However, plans for the proposed Student Media Council that the fee is meant to fund have not been completed or presented to the public and likely will not be for at least another month. The fee is contingent on approval of these bylaws for the new council at the Trustees’ April meeting.

Although this decision is better than blindly accepting the fee on good faith, the fact remains that it was approved without a clear plan as to where the money will go.

Proponents of the fee have allowed people to get the wrong impression that all involved parties are on board. In reality, no one could voice their opposition earlier because plans to raise the fee weren’t even disclosed to members of the existing Publications Council, which governs student publications on campus, including The Chronicle.

The fee could provide thousands of dollars to subsidize KUTE, the U’s floundering student radio station. But KUTE doesn’t deserve a bailout. Considering that students are already facing a sizable tuition increase along with other raises in fees, we can’t imagine many students would support giving so much of their money to fund KUTE.

However, KUTE isn’t the only piece in the proposed fee increase puzzle. The proposed Student Media Council would affect all student media, and to sell it as a KUTE renovation is misleading.

Now that the fee has passed, the Trustees should ensure in their next meeting that such a media council would not waste student fees or interfere with the independence of student media.

Unclear fee objectives: Miss

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