This is the most important month of the year for most campus organizations. For two hectic weeks, tickets for GUSA executive compete in a campaign full of profile picture advertisements, nearly life-size posters, and candidate debates. But there are also other important decisions for the 2018-2019 academic year that will not occur on election day.
This week, Media Board, which represents student publications and media organizations, submitted its budget request for the 2018 fiscal year. Last year, the GUSA Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee (Fin/App) cut Media Board’s funding by 39.5 percent despite an overall increase in allocations for campus clubs. Fin/App will hold their annual summit on Feb. 24 then deliberate on Feb. 27.
This editorial board urges all members of the Georgetown community to keep campus media in mind during these pivotal few weeks. We call on students to make it clear to all candidates and GUSA senators that campus media is valued. The GUSA executive may not participate directly in the budgeting process, but the executive can and should set a tone for the entire campus.
Fortunately, the Voice has survived despite the budget cuts, but it has not been easy. Despite submitting a budget that already reflected minimum operating costs, we were forced to make further sacrifices. This year, we decreased our circulation by 75 percent and cut one full issue (of only 16) to remain under budget, all despite having our most successful year in advertising revenue to date.
The Voice is big enough to weather the storm, but many of the smaller media organizations are more vulnerable. As the editorial board wrote last year, “The needs of publications like the Caravel, The Georgetown Independent, and the Triple Helix, among others, and non-print organizations like GUTV are all essentially disregarded by the budget cut.”
To justify the cuts, Fin/App called on campus media to decrease printing costs and shift towards an increasing online presence. Many of these smaller organizations only have a handful of issues a year. Some, like GUTV or WGTB, do not publish in print at all. The Voice has and will continue to increase its online presence to adapt to an increasingly digital age. However, it is not the role of Fin/App to dictate how Media Board spends its funds. Just as Fin/App does not pressure club sports to spend on specific tournaments or equipment, Fin/App must respect the sovereignty of media organizations.
There is no onus on other organizations to do anything other than provide skills and experiences to their members. For campus media, the bar is set unjustly higher. Our representatives claim to serve all members of the Georgetown community. This February, we ask you to hold them to do just that. Our campus cannot become a community unless we are all represented, and we are all informed.
Image Credits: Graphic: Jack Townsend