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Friday, September 19, 2014 | Last updated: 8:51am

In March elections, you decide whether or not student media gets new fee



Last week, more than 4,000 undergraduate students signed a pink petition sheet that was circulated by members of Arizona Student Media, in the hopes that with enough signatures, student media could get a $3 fee on the ASUA ballot in March.

To fill in the roughly 27,000 other undergraduate students who don’t know what I’m talking about, the three branches of Arizona Student Media — the Arizona Daily Wildcat, UATV and KAMP Student Radio — want to “change the refundable $1 per semester KAMP Student Radio Fee to a refundable $3 per semester Student Media Fee renewable in 5 years.”

Currently, a refundable $1 KAMP Student Radio fee is included in tuition, as it has been for the last several years. The Daily Wildcat has received funding from the Student Services Fee in recent years, relying on $60,000 to support a digital media-focused staff. It also creates revenue from selling print and online advertising.

Wildcat advertising also helps support UATV, which relies on donations as well.

Essentially, what Arizona Student Media is petitioning to do is not create a new fee: We just want to increase an existing one by $2 and change its name.

In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t seem like too big of a change, since again, it’s refundable. But maybe that’s just because I’m a part of student media and I know what this small sum of money could do.

I’ve been with the Wildcat for a little more than two years now and I know what we’re capable of. KAMP Radio is almost solely a volunteer-based organization that produces around 60 shows produced by around 100 volunteers. UATV has about 60 unpaid workers and the Wildcat has around 150 employees, paid by assignment or a salary stipend depending on the position.

They work with student media because they are genuinely passionate about producing content. They want to bring you a UA-only perspective that you can’t get from the Arizona Daily Star and certainly not from the Arizona Republic; members of student media work to entertain and inform you.

According to a rough draft of a budget that leaders within Arizona Student Media presented to the ASUA Senate last Wednesday, the Arizona Student Media fee would bring in about $240,000. If the fee is approved, the Wildcat could purchase new equipment and finance development for mobile apps and marketing.

The fee could help UATV increase student stipends and develop a student video production department.

KAMP Radio could use the funding for equipment upgrades and summer programming.

The next step, now that Arizona Student Media has collected these signatures, is to have them verified by student government officials. If enough of the signatures are valid — signed by a UA undergraduate with a student ID number — then the fee will appear on the ballot, alongside candidates running for positions in the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. If enough students vote yes in March, the fee will move to the Arizona Board of Regents for approval.

But let’s say you don’t want to help student media. Maybe you don’t regularly read the Wildcat, or you don’t listen to KAMP radio or watch UATV, or you just plain don’t like student media — you can vote against the fee.

However, if you do that, student media production will continue to financially struggle.

I’m not asking you to vote for the new fee — just make a decision. I’ve given you the numbers and the options. Now you get to decide.

— Lynley Price is the assistant copy chief and readers’ representative for the Arizona Daily Wildcat. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @LynleyPrice.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Arizona Daily Wildcat.

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