The Sunflower

WSU President Bardo passes student fees recommendation, approves Sunflower funding cut

WSU+President+Bardo+approved+steep+cuts+to+The+Sunflower%27s+budget+Wednesday.
WSU President Bardo approved steep cuts to The Sunflower's budget Wednesday.

WSU President Bardo approved steep cuts to The Sunflower's budget Wednesday.

Brian Hayes

Brian Hayes

WSU President Bardo approved steep cuts to The Sunflower's budget Wednesday.

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Wichita State President John Bardo has approved the student fees budget recommendation, authorizing a steep cut to The Sunflower’s funding. The entire university’s budget will now go to the Kansas Board of Regents for final approval.

The approved budget cuts The Sunflower’s funding to $80,000, nearly half of its request. The Sunflower requested $158,000, which is what the newspaper received until 2016, when it was cut to $105,000. The 2016 cut was said to be temporary, and The Sunflower was promised its full request for next year. That funding was never restored to The Sunflower.

The student fees budget recommendation passed through the Student Senate last week with a 21-18 simple majority vote. The Student Senate has no power to change the recommended budget for fixed-line items, such as The Sunflower — they can only vote to approve or disapprove the budget as a whole.

Bardo made the announcement via Shocker Blast, sent out early Monday morning.

Bardo accepted the $9.87 million proposal, stating “It has more to do with how people are receiving news and the overall steep decline in newspaper industry revenues than it does with the First Amendment freedoms of the speech and the press.”

Last month, the Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution imploring Bardo to restore The Sunflower’s full funding, calling the proposed funding cuts “intimidation of free student press.”

“As print advertising has declined, our community newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, has endured dramatic reductions in staffing, news space and print deadlines. We don’t want The Sunflower to suffer the same fate while its staff and supporters respond to this very changed media landscape.

“We don’t want to lose an active student media voice on campus or the applied learning opportunities that Sunflower staffers receive,” Bardo said in the news release.

The statement said that Vice President for Student Affairs Teri Hall “plans to take money from an open staff position in her division and offer The Sunflower up to $25,000 in print and online advertising.”

 

Here is Bardo’s full statement, released in ShockerBlast and WSU Today, sent out to all students, faculty, and staff Wednesday morning:

Statement from WSU President John Bardo about student fees and Sunflower funding

I appreciate the thoughtful consideration of the Student Fees Committee and the Student Senate in arriving at a proposed Student Fees Budget for the coming year and their focus on student affordability. I accept the recommended $9.7 million proposal and will forward it to the Kansas Board of Regents as part of the university’s overall submission for next year. At the same time, I am supportive of restoring Sunflower funding to its current level using other university resources.

Continued funding of student newspapers is a conversation that’s happening, or has already taken place, on many campuses. It has more to do with how people are receiving news and the overall steep decline in newspaper industry revenues than it does with the First Amendment freedoms of the speech and the press.

For example, we’ve seen the increasing importance of social media, including Facebook and Twitter, as sources of news. As print advertising has declined, our community newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, has endured dramatic reductions in staffing, news space and print deadlines.

We don’t want The Sunflower to suffer the same fate while its staff and supporters respond to this very changed media landscape. We don’t want to lose an active student media voice on campus or the applied learning opportunities that Sunflower staffers receive.

As part of an announced effort to keep an overall student fee increase to 1 percent, student government voted to reduce The Sunflower’s funding from $105,000 in Fiscal Year 2018 to $80,000 in Fiscal Year 2019 that begins this July 1.

To make up the difference, Student Affairs VP Teri Hall plans to take money from an open staff position in her division and offer The Sunflower up to $25,000 in print and online advertising. Dr. Hall and I feel that doing this advertising fits well with the Student Affairs Division’s goal of “Connecting every student.” Dr. Hall plans to talk with The Sunflower’s advertising director about implementation.

With all of the innovation the university is encouraging across campus, we hope The Sunflower’s staff and Publications Board will take this upcoming year to deeply reflect on The Sunflower’s funding model and develop sustainable ideas for its future. These conversations are especially important in assuring students’ applied learning experiences reflect the massive changes affecting news media today.

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