Fees could rise to fund council

By Michael McFall, Jeremy Thompson

A proposal to raise student fees to finance student media will be presented to the U Board of Trustees early next month, but details of how the fee would be spent have not been disclosed.

Members of the student media task force proposed the fee be used to finance a merge of student media, pay for a new public relations agency and at least partially pay the salary of two professionals to advise and advocate for student media.

The task force has proposed that the existing $4.66 per semester publication fee be raised $1.34 per student, per semester, and an additional $1.50 per semester during the next few years, pending the Trustees’ approval at their May 12 meeting.

The Trustees postponed approving the proposal at their March and April meetings because proponents of the proposal did not have an outlined plan for spending the student fee.
Ann Darling, chairwoman of the department of communication and leader of a task force to establish the role of student media, refused to comment on how the fee will be used. Fred Esplin, vice president of institutional advancement and a member of the task force, also refused to comment.

According to the most recent draft of the policies and procedures governing the way the fee will be spent, the new money is designed to fund a media supervisor, referred to as a “student media advocate,” to enforce council policy on student media and act as liaison between the media and the public. The policies say the advocate will not control content.
The advocate would answer to a newly created media council, which would use the fee increase to pay some part of the advocate’s salary. The department of communication might pick up the tab for the rest of the advocate’s salary, though details of the proposal are still under review.

The fee would also in part make the financially struggling KUTE student radio station financially viable and create a public relations group with its own supervisor, according to the most recent public draft of the proposal, made available to The Daily Utah Chronicle on April 6.

“The fee increase is a difficult issue,” said Patrick Reimherr, student body president. “It’s raising student fees beyond the need to keep up with inflation,” but it’s still a beneficial move for student media that is hurting financially, Reimherr said.

However, the newly elected student government leaders disagree with the idea of raising student fees.

“Although I support the idea of what the administration is trying to do8212;uniting media outlets to make campus media stronger8212;I do not agree with the way they are going about it,” said Tayler Clough, ASUU president-elect.

Clough said raising fees is not the solution.

“Administrators cannot play the student fee card every time they want to pay for something,” Clough said. “I am totally, 100 percent, in every way possible, against an increase in student fees.”

Sean Halls, newly elected station manager for KUTE, said the fee increase is necessary to allow the station to pay its staff and advertise station programming in other media outlets.
Halls said if KUTE’s Web site can reach 500 unique page views a day, the Utah Media Sales Group, which sells advertising for such media as The Chronicle, could start selling advertising space on KUTE’s Web site and air time. Currently, the station’s Web site receives about 90 unique hits per week.

“If new or struggling media, such as KUTE, wants an advocate, then they should get one,” said incoming Chronicle editor in chief Rachel Hanson. “But The Chronicle has been around for 110 years and should remain an independent, student-led publication.”

Bob Avery, faculty adviser to KUTE, did not respond for comment.

“As I understand it, the idea is to spread out the costs so that more of the increase in student fees would go to media, not to staff compensation,” said Glen Feighery, chair of the Publications Council, in an e-mail to Hanson and Dustin Gardiner, the current editor in chief of The Chronicle, respectively.

A request for an updated version of policies and procedures regarding spending of the student fee was denied. Darling said the new procedures should be available sometime before April 30.

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Alyssa Bailey