PULLMAN – In a last-ditch effort to keep the Daily Evergreen publishing five days per week, the Associated Students of WSU on Wednesday approved a referendum that will be placed on the university ballot.
The referendum asks students to pay a $5 fee per semester to fund the production and staffing of the newspaper; the measure will be voted on by students in early March.
With about 20,000 students enrolled on the WSU Pullman campus, the fee would raise about $200,000 annually, which would be shuffled directly to the Office of Student Media.
If the referendum fails, the WSU Board of Student Media approved cutting one day of production per week, beginning March 23. The newspaper has printed five days per week since 1980. If necessary, potential cuts the newspaper could face in fiscal year 2019 will be revisited by the board when the results from the referendum are released.
The cuts stem from the newspaper’s growing budget deficit. At the beginning of fiscal 2018, the newspaper had a negative beginning balance of $184,710, with only about $7,000 in reserve.
Even with $37,538 in cuts made earlier this school year, the newspaper trimmed its financial deficit to $147,172. With another $19,042 in reductions to come, the projected year-end balance is still expected to be a $128,130 deficit.
Director of the Office of Student Media Richard Miller said the one-day production and staff cuts would save the newspaper about $8,000 per year, which would double the current reserve and allow the newspaper to operate for the remainder of the semester.
Earlier this month, the board also elected to discontinue the weekly summer print edition if the referendum fails.
A $4 student fee proposed for the same reasons in 2016 failed, but student journalists are confident the referendum will pass this time around.
Former Daily Evergreen Editor in Chief Gabriella Ramos said without the newspaper, the university would not have an objective news source for the students. She said they are using that objectivity and the “for the students” mission to help them campaign and pass the referendum this time.
“We’re running the campaign differently than we have before,” she said. “We are stressing the community aspect of what the Daily Evergreen does. … We’re here for the students; that’s the big mission of the campaign is getting that message heard, even if they don’t pick it up everyday.”
Miller said it was important to take some action before the conclusion of the referendum, as it allows students time to transition their product. He said that’s why he made the motion to cut one day of print production.
Staff at the Daily Evergreen also will submit a proposal to the Graduate and Professional Students Association to place a measure on their ballot as well.
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