On Wednesday, College Council (CC) passed a resolution requesting that the Student Activity Tax (SAT) be raised by $4 per student each semester. CC’s resolution advocated that the additional SAT money be allocated to The Williams Record as a subscription fee to the paper for the on-campus student body.
The resolution, authored by CC co-presidents Ifiok Inyang ’11 and Emanuel Yekutiel ’11, specifies that the recommendation is made on the grounds that the Record “provides an invaluable service to the Williams community and especially the Williams student body” and that “there is much to gain by preserving an on-campus print media resource … for future generations of students.”
The resolution is also born in part out of difficulties faced last spring when the Record and CC met to discuss ways of subsidizing the newspaper. The document states that “due to a variety factors, including a large debt accrued over years and an increasingly unstable financial market for print media, the future of the Record was placed in jeopardy.” The resolution also acknowledges that the Record is an independent entity, not a CC-sponsored student group.
“After many conversations with the Record last spring, it became clear to us that it’s not sustainable to have no subscription fee for the Record,” Yekutiel said. “There was no steady reliable source of revenue for the Record, and the most justifiable place to find that is in the community of consumers of the Record: the student body.”
Inyang also cited the financial situation as a complex subject for persistent student regulation. “The hope is that there will never be a situation where student leaders from CC and the Record need to decide the future of the student newspaper – something that both sides want to see happen,” Inyang said. “This resolution will be the solution so that this will never happen again.”
Record Editor-in-Chief Kaitlin Butler ’11 agreed that the solution would helpfully avoid future difficult negotiations since accepting direct CC funding would compromise the Record’s ability to report on the council without bias, especially if a large chunk of the paper’s budget were subject to an annual student vote.
“The Record appreciates this resolution because the proposed means of funding doesn’t have a negative impact on our editorial independence,” Butler said. “We’re happy that CC understood our concerns and is working to fund us outside of their direct oversight.”
To officially implement the recommendations in the resolution, College administrators must consider the change to the SAT, which is set in conjunction with tuition, room and board fees. CC has forwarded the resolution to Provost Bill Lenhart for consideration by appropriate groups.
“The Provost, working with the Tuition Advisory Group – a group of administrators who serve ex officio – annually develops a recommendation for setting student fees, which is then discussed with the president and the Board of Trustees,” Lenhart said. “These discussions take place during the winter months as part of the annual budget process.”
If implemented, the funds from the increased SAT would provide an additional source of income for the Record, supplementing cash flow from advertisements and outside subscriptions, of which neither revenue stream is always stable. The Record, which did not have any input into this resolution, is open to receiving supplemental funds.
“I think it’s very generous of CC to help the campus paper that so many people feel is integral to the community,” said Marcello Halitzer ’12, Record business manager. “[The Record] has worked hard, and things have turned the corner, but it is still good to have a safety net.”