Editorial: Budget Issues Lead to Conflict Between Cable and Senate

Cable Starts Transition to Student Activities

Abigail Blonigen
A petition started by the Cable in response to the Student Service Fee Allocation Committee’s budgeting decisions has recently caused quite the stir on Facebook.

The petition, which has received 912 signatures since Nov. 21, was in response to the Student Service Fee Allocation Committee’s decision to cut Cable stipends, granting the Cable only $4,508 of the $13,829.16 requested.

Senate’s financial handbook reads, “The only organization to receive stipend funds to reimburse their leaders is Student Senate.”

According to Senate’s Financial Vice President, Andrew Bailey, this is a new regulation following the decision to remove stipends from Student Activities a couple years ago, and from Campus Ministry this past semester.

In an email, Senate President Jason Chavez stated, “Implementing this policy was considered to be the most fair option to create a precedent for all clubs on our campus. Student Senate’s view is that club leaders should not receive a stipend. We are currently looking into options for The Cable. Simply put, there was not room in the student service fee allocation this semester to provide The Cable funds for the stipends requested.”

In response to why Senate leaders can still receive stipends out of the student service fee, Chavez responded, “In terms of the policy being hypocritical, the Senate itself is not a club at the College, but a governing body that oversees student organizations and clubs.”

The Cable knows from experience that we cannot function without stipends. We currently have 34 people on our payroll, and while some only write one column a week, others write several stories weekly and rely on the Cable as a source of income. As each story takes several hours, the Cable is indeed like a part time job.

Budget decisions were made final the morning of Nov. 17. Senate had sent an email to Cable budget manager, Nick Aspin, on Nov. 10 giving him a heads up about the new stipend regulation, but the email was overlooked.

“I take blame for not informing anybody prior,” said Aspin, “but I honestly didn’t process the fact that Senate had said they wanted to cut pay until they explicitly said so at the meeting.”

The budget meeting between the Cable and Student Senate occured on Tuesday, Nov. 14, where the stipends were brought up again.

“Senate were very intent on having them cut,” said Aspin.

The evening of Nov. 16 both Aspin and interim editor, Allie Brennhofer received an email from Senate stating the stipends would indeed be cut, and suggested the Cable make up funds by, “1. Publish less articles 2. Off set costs by selling advertisements 3. Fundraising.”

The Cable does admit fault that we should have communicated better between our own leadership team as well as the leadership of Senate, but we do believe there should have been better communication on Senate’s side as well.

After contacting Aspin on Nov. 10 and not receiving a response, Senate did not follow up with him or other Cable leadership regarding the Cable’s options until the final decision was made. Senate had also been meeting with Vice President of Student Affairs, Steve Lyons, student employment, and Student Activities Director, Jordon Moses, about the Cable without the Cable’s knowledge. Because of this lack of communication, Cable leadership felt Senate was working against instead of with us, which prompted the petition, reading:

The Cable is a student run newspaper at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota which has been in print for over 40 years.

A student news outlet is essential to every college campus. It allows students interested in writing to test out their skills in a real life context, keeps students, faculty, and staff alike informed on campus happenings, and gives students a voice to express concerns and hold bodies on campus accountable.

Here at St. Scholastica, our newspaper is also a job. Editors are paid a weekly wage, and writers are paid $5 to $25 per article, a fair price for the number of hours they put into each story. Because it is such a time consuming organization to be a part of, it is indeed more like employment than simply a club.

Upon submitting our budget request for next semester, Student Senate informed us that they created a new regulation stating no clubs on campus can receive stipends except for Senate themselves. Because of this, the Student Service Fee Allocation Committee has slashed our budget, leaving us with barely enough money to print.

Please sign this petition if you agree that the College of St. Scholastica needs a functioning student news source and that its employees should be fairly compensated for their work.

Thank you,
The Cable

The petition was in no way meant to be an attack against Senate. It was addressed to the College of St. Scholastica, and asked those in agreement that writers should be paid to sign. The goal was to force the Student Service Fee Allocation Committee and Student Senate to reallocate, or force the college to find the Cable other funding options on campus.

However, the wording of the petition did cause some confusion, and the Cable would like to clarify.

The Cable requested $5,107.41 for printing costs, however we did estimate $600 in advertising revenue for Spring 2018. With this estimate, Senate did fund our printing costs in full, however the amount of advertising revenue is not guaranteed.

Some seemed to interpret the petition as Senate cut our budget entirely, and this is simply not true. Others felt the petition undermined Senate’s hard work on making our campus more equitable, and this is untrue as well. As a newspaper, it is our responsibility to highlight the accomplishments of organizations on campus as well as hold them accountable if they do something unfair.

Since then, the Cable and Student Senate have worked out an agreement. After conversations between Dean of students, Megan Perry-Spears, Steve Lyons, Jordon Moses, Senate, and the Cable, it has been decided that it is in everyone’s best interest that the Cable moves under Student Activities in the 2018-19 academic year. This will provide the Cable with more stability and sustainability to have a consistent budget every semester, and employees will be paid by Student Activities rather than with the student service fee.

“I wanted to get some info from all parties because I wanted to get to the core of what everyone wanted,” said Moses at Senate’s meeting on Sunday, “and what was really at the core was creating a sustainable model for the Cable to build off of, to really build a foundation.”

As for next semester, the Cable requested Senate make an exception to the handbook and allow us to use the money given to us for printing to pay our writers, publishing more online rather than in print. This proposal was approved by the coordinating board of Senate and passed during Sunday’s meeting with a vote of 24-2-1.

While the Cable will still have to reduce pay for next semester, we see many positive changes coming with the transition into Student Activities and look forward to becoming a more stable organization on campus so student voices can continue to be heard.