Lack of accountability hurts students, on-campus media
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 02:10
As you have likely noticed by now, The Scribe’s racks have been empty every other week. While we’d love to claim all of our issues are picked clean on their day of distribution, that’s not the case. The Scribe has temporarily taken to a biweekly publication schedule.
The decision to go biweekly was far from ideal. We want to continue publishing weekly because more frequent issues best inform students on the latest happenings around campus. Cramming two weeks of news into one issue complicates that goal.
As we recently learned, The Scribe could have indeed published weekly issues if a mistake in budget allocation had not been made in the Media Advisory Board, which acts as an advisor to on-campus media, including The Scribe and the UCCS Radio Station.
Since the beginning of the semester, we have been working with the budget that the MAB approved. We made the decision to go biweekly based on our budgeted student payroll, which is listed at $34,812.
Each issue we produce costs roughly $1,900, so if we continued to publish weekly this year, we calculated that would leave us about $20,000 in debt.
And we started this year with a debt inherited from last year, too. To pay it back, we emptied our advertising account.
That account has funds we earn independently from the student funds granted by the Student Government Association, which granted us about $72,000 for our student fee account. That covers student payroll, advising costs, office expenses, website hosting and travel for the entire year.
Faced with inadequate student payroll and nothing to pay our printer, we made a financially responsible decision – we reverted to a biweekly schedule to work within our budget.
With our advertising account emptied, we had to make a choice: cut issues or sink further into debt. But we shouldn’t have had to cut so many issues – if any at all.
The actual bill that SGA passed budgeted $47,470 for student payroll, almost $13,000 more than incoming management was told they had to work with this year.
So where exactly did that $13,000 go? Contrary to what SGA may have assumed at first, it hasn’t been used for debt or been purposefully unreported.
None of our staff, except for our advertising representatives on the occasional pay period, report maximum hours on the weeks we don’t publish. When we’re not writing, shooting, editing and designing an issue, our timesheets reflect that lull in activity.
That $13,000 wasn’t added to The Scribe’s budget at all. Pinning down an exact history of why that happened has been almost impossible for the MAB.
However, the difference was ultimately allocated to the UCCS Radio Station, which has nearly doubled the $13,537 SGA initially approved for its budget.
Sharing funds isn’t necessarily the problem. The Scribe is not opposed to sharing funds with the UCCS Radio Station, which has agreed to share funds to help us through the occasional rough patch in the past.
The UCCS Radio Station’s weekly schedule this semester is nearly full, and newer, active organizations on campus deserve funding to establish themselves and to pay student employees who dedicate their time to their success.
But when so many funds are taken from The Scribe that we can no longer publish weekly issues, that hinders our mission and ability to keep students informed.
Previous Scribe management and the UCCS Radio Station have confirmed that while there may have been discussions in the MAB about sharing funds, neither approved something so drastic as a near $13,000 in redistribution.
With no one to be held accountable for it, the redistribution should be ruled null and void. Based on these circumstances, we will motion for those funds to return to The Scribe’s payroll and help organize a system for future accountability in the MAB.
While the MAB is valuable for how it unites on-campus media, it needs a few improvements – and documentation for moved funds is one of them.
Having a record of approved redistributions that can be referenced for future incidents such as these is not an unreasonable request, especially when those instances can cripple an organization’s ability to serve students and the UCCS community.