September 27, 2016

Letter to the editor: Extreme budget cuts don’t show support for student media

Devastated.

As I struggle to string the best words, phrases and sentences together, that’s the only word that seems to reappear.

It’s the word that best describes how I felt when I learned about the proposed budget cuts to Webster University student media. And, if these cuts go into effect, I worry they could devastate student media. I worry these cuts could devastate  programs that have been countless number of students, faculty and staff have invested in over the years.

As the former editor-in-chief of The Journal and 2013 graduate, I struggle to understand the difference nearly a year’s time makes.

Nearly a year ago, I left The Journal — a printed newspaper that would soon be a national finalist for the highest award in collegiate journalism.

Now, with these proposed budget cuts, the futures of The Journal, The Ampersand and The Galaxy are uncertain. But I am hopeful because there are people who care about a campus press, many of which are alums who feel as strongly about this as I do.

The Journal’s recent story, “Student media may see budget cut in fall,” states that The Journal’s printing budget will be slashed from $30,000 per year to only $5,000. Budget positions will be cut from 10 to two. The Ampersand will lose its sole paid position and print once a year rather than once a semester. The Galaxy’s four budget positions will be a thing of the past.

While deans from schools and colleges declined to comment on any budget cuts, Dean of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences David Carl Wilson told The Journal the cuts he would make would be minimal — one percent — and students and faculty wouldn’t notice much of a change.

That feeling is not at all similar from those whose lives have been/are dedicated to Webster’s student media. For those of us who have worked in The Journal newsroom or The Galaxy radio station, we know the change will not be minimal. I know current students will experience a notable and significant change.

My question for Dean Eric Rothenbuhler and Webster University administration is not, “Why?,” but rather this — “Why must these proposed budget cuts be so drastic?”

Cuts that would reduce newspaper printing by 85 percent. Cuts that would make The Ampersand more of a yearbook than a magazine. Cuts that would force media students to find part-time jobs rather than engage in their educational experience.

I can stomp my feet and pout throughout these paragraphs, but if you won’t listen to me, Webster University, can you at least listen to the the students you claim to serve?

Is there not some sort of compromise that can come from this, so that newspapers can remain on racks?

 

According to The Journal story, the university released a statement in regards to this situation which stated that “Webster is working to realign the budget to its strategic priorities.”

I hope quality education is a “strategic priority” for Webster University as it comes time to assess budgets because proposed cuts to student media do not prove that to be the case.

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