Dixie State University’s Board of Trustees voted today in support of a proposal to cut back a student fee that funds the student newspaper, the Dixie Sun News, for the 2019-20 academic year.
Currently, the newspaper gets $1 per student each semester from student fees. But the newspaper’s advisor Rhiannon Bent said that amount was reduced to 75 cents per student a semester, which will result in a loss of at least $3,000 in the paper’s budget.
The cut comes after the newspaper reported last year on the firing of two professors. This year, it pushed administrators to open up faculty senate and student government meetings to the public.
The Student Fee Allocation Committee, which is made up of Dixie State students, proposed the cut. Earlier this month, the committee said that more than half of the newspaper’s printed copies were not being picked up, resulting in wasted paper. The paper is also published online.
The committee recommended the paper cut back on the number of copies it prints to make up for the lost fees, said Cajun Syrett, Dixie State’s student body president. Syrett also serves on the Student Fee Allocation Committee and the Board of Trustees.
Bent made a case that the Dixie Sun News is a valuable news source and provides a learning opportunity for students. The board ultimately decided to respect the student committees’ wishes, but also acknowledged that further study of the newspaper’s needs was necessary. The board added a provision to keep an eye on the newspaper’s finances and possibly restore the student fee to $1 — and even increase it — if a real need is found.
“Everybody is saying that they are open to exploring the possibilities and ensuring the paper’s success, so at the end of the day, I guess that’s what matters the most,” Bent said.
Bent, an assistant professor of media studies, has served as an advisor for the student paper for 15 years. In that time, the paper has not asked for a fee increase nor experienced a cut prior to this year, she said.
This was the second year in a row that the newspaper’s funding was threatened. Last year, the student committee almost cut the newspaper funding by half, but Dixie Sun staff successfully pushed back against it.
Since then, the paper reduced its circulation number from 2,500 copies to 1,000 copies.
Ryann Heinlen, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, said she believes the funding cut will affect the paper’s day-to-day operations.
“It’s nice to hear the support from not only the Board of Trustees but also President Biff Williams, but the actions taken today were in direction opposition of what was being said,” she said. “Funding student journalists is more important now more than ever.”
Syrett invited Dixie Sun News to return to the Student Fee Allocation Committee next year and make a case for an increase to their student fee.
“We want to see you thrive as an organization,” Syrett said.