The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, student newspaper, The Rebel Yell, launched a fundraising campaign last week to keep its paper alive after sustaining budget cuts earlier this year.
Instead of the $86,000 the independent student newspaper received last year, it was given only $31,000 from the Student Life Funding Committee. The $31,000 is barely enough to keep the Rebel Yell running for fall 2016, according to the paper’s editor-in-chief, Bianca Cseke.
Without at least another $30,000 in funding, the paper would have to shut down for spring 2017.
The Rebel Yell published its first issue in 1955 and over the years has been run through ad revenue and funding received by 8 percent of student fees from the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada, UNLV’s student government.
After the 2012 CSUN president wanted to have control over The Rebel Yell’s editor-in-chief position, the newspaper decided that in order to remain objective and informative, the paper had to split from CSUN, Cseke said.
“It actually became a conflict of interes … and we cover our student government pretty intensively,” Cseke said.
Cseke also explained that the advisory board and the newspaper staff had a discrepancy with the application for funding and were under the impression that they did not need to submit a new application each semester.
The $31,000 for the year is barely enough to cover costs of the Rebel Yell for one semester. Printing only 1,000 copies of one issue costs $965, and even after downsizing their staff to the minimum amount of editors and staff writers needed to efficiently and effectively produce the paper, they need close to $2,000 every month for the staff stipend, says Cseke.
Over the last four years, The Rebel Yell has relied heavily on ads placed in their paper to keep them afloat, but after having to switch from being a bi-weekly paper to a weekly, the paper’s ad sales decreased. Cseke said the paper can no longer rely on ad revenue.
“So far the paper has gotten only $1,580 in donations during the past week, but Cseke says she has high hopes that the paper will get the funding they need, especially after marketing their fundraiser to a larger amount of people.
Amid the funding issues, the paper has also been battling with a name change. After a comment was made by Sen. Harry Reid about the symbolism of UNLV’s nickname, The Rebels, and its symbolism of the Confederacy in June 2015, the paper began plans to change their name.
The “rebel yell” was a battle cry used by Confederate soldiers during the American Civil War and is often thought of as a racist title. Despite some resistance from alumni of the paper, Cseke said the staff and the advisory board is looking forward to re-launching their paper.
Steve Sebelius, the chairman of the newspaper’s advisory board said university officials wouldn’t help the paper seek outside funding unless its name was changed immediately.
The staff of the paper planned to reach out to the student body for ideas on the name change and planned to release the new name and paper on Nov. 28, the last issue of the semester, but if they don’t get more funding, the new name will not make any difference, said Cseke.
Along with the GoFundMe campaign, Cseke and the Rebel Yell’s staff are working with their advisors to develop more short-term solutions to keep the paper running, such as reaching out to personal contacts, alumni and independent news foundations.
The Rebel Yell staff and advisory board are working on a plan to pitch to the board of regents that would have every student at UNLV contribute $2 toward operating costs per semester.
The earliest this plan could be implemented would be fall of 2018, said Cseke.
In the meantime, she continues to stress the importance of an independent student paper on a college campus.
The Rebel Yell is the only independently produced news on the UNLV campus.