Arizona Student Media seeks support, petitions for vote on refundable fee
Student media members are petitioning to get a referendum on the ASUA ballot to increase an existing student fee.
Arizona Student Media, made up of KAMP Student Radio, UATV and the Arizona Daily Wildcat, has been working to collect signatures from 10 percent of the undergraduate student body before the Feb. 15 deadline in order to allow students to vote on an expansion and increase of the original $1 per semester KAMP Student Radio fee.
The KAMP Student Radio fee has been in place for the last 15 years and goes up for renewal every five years. Now, instead of renewing the same fee, student media is trying to implement a $3 per semester refundable fee.
If the referendum for the fee gets on the Associated Students of the University of Arizona ballot, students will have the opportunity to vote in March. If a majority of the student body votes in support of the fee, this would serve as tangible support for the university administration to propose this in its budget proposal to the Arizona Board of Regents according to Katy Murray, ASUA president.
“My hope would be that, if it were to be passed, there would be significant outreach to the student body as well as significant [either] improvements or advancements in terms of what the programs are doing now,” Murray said.
If the fee were to pass, it would not be strictly divided between the three student-run media groups. Wherever the need is, that is where the money will go, according to Kristina Bui, editor-in-chief of the Daily Wildcat and journalism senior.
Some of the advancements that could come with an increased fee include paid positions for reporters and production staff within UATV, a student-run TV station on campus, according to Jackie Kent, a journalism junior and general manager of UATV. There are nearly 60 students from different majors volunteering in UATV, but there are only two paid positions.
For KAMP, there must be some sort of fee or income to keep the station going, according to Isaac Gealer, general manager of KAMP and a senior studying marketing and entrepreneurship. About 100 volunteers are involved with KAMP, Gealer said. There are about 60 shows, according to the KAMP website.
Students don’t have to be involved in journalism to have a show at KAMP and they can get on the air for an hour a week in a professional environment, according to Gealer.
“Everyone is in need of some additional funding to help us stay afloat and give students the opportunities that we’ve been giving them,” Gealer said.
The Daily Wildcat is dealing with competition for advertisement dollars and print advertising revenue has dropped off 30 or 40 percent, according to Mark Woodhams, Daily Wildcat faculty adviser and director of Arizona Student Media. There are 150 students working at the Wildcat and the fee could help students pay for media they could participate in, as well as use, Woodhams said.
“Supporting student media is about giving 300 students a chance at real-world work experience, but also about supporting the voice of 40,000 undergraduate and graduate students, plus the faculty staff, parents and alumni who look to these organizations as voices of the UA community,” Bui said.
The Daily Wildcat distributed more than 1 million print issues during the course of last year, and there were about 1.4 million visitors to its website.
If Arizona Student Media collects enough signatures, students will vote to approve the fee on March 5 and 6. The fee would need final approval by ABOR. If the petition fails to collect enough signatures or does not get approved, Arizona Student Media will have to consider restructuring its organizations.
“The Wildcat will come out next year if we don’t get this. How many days a week? I don’t know,” Woodhams said. “I think without the fee it will really handcuff our ability to meet the realities of the 21st century media operation.”