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What is the student media ballot question?

The student media ballot question will be present on the Spring 2024 Associated Students of the University of Nevada ballot for students to vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the following question:

“Shall the Associate Students of the University of Nevada seek Board of Regents approval of a student media fee to fund the Nevada Sagebrush, Insight Magazine, Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, and Wolf Pack Radio at the rate of $1.29 per credit taken?”

The question must get a two-thirds vote, approximately 66 percent, to pass.

If the question passes what’s next?

As with all pieces of ASUN legislation and ballot questions: the Board of Regents has the final say in whether or not this fee passes. If two-thirds is met, the piece will be presented in December 2024 to the Regents. Realistically, the fee will not be enacted until the 2025 to 2026 school year.

How is student media funded currently?

Currently, Brushfire Literature and Arts Journal, Wolf Pack Radio and Insight Magazine are funded via ASUN. The Nevada Sagebrush us funded independently via advertisements and donations. However ASUN does have a line item dedicated to Nevada Sagebrush advertising funds, but they are not required to spend all of the funding every school year.

Why is student media choosing to break away from ASUN and fund themselves via an independent fee?

The idea of a student fee, or sometimes called a student tax, to fund student media is not a new concept. In 2022, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ student newspaper put in place a 20-cent-per-credit fee to fund the newspaper alone (the UNR fee would fund ALL FOUR student media). Other schools that have student fees to support student media include: Utah State University, Fresno State University, Rutgers University, University of Oregon, Louisiana State University (seriously, just Google student newspaper fee).

Additionally, student media still continues to see drastic changes in funding and operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since Brushfire, Wolf Pack Radio and Insight are funded via ASUN, therefore any budget cuts that come to ASUN could affect their organizations or the senate could choose to cut their budgets to move money to other student resources.

As for the Sagebrush, advertising revenue has declined significantly since the pandemic, making only $14,000 during the 2021 to 2022 school year; in its prime it was making over $150,000 in advertising. Additionally, with the printing press in Northern Nevada shutting down, cutting print has been a mandatory discharge due to the high costs of shipping from Northern California.

Currently, the Sagebrush runs on an approximately $30,000 per year budget, spending only $18,000 on wages for a thirteen person staff.

Where is the money going if the fee passes?

The money will fund all four student media, a full-time professional staff position that directly supports the organizations and a pool of money within the Student Media Advisory Board for scholarships, grants, overhead costs or to help fund new student media initiatives.

One of the main reasons for starting the fee was to provide livable wages for all staff members (more than half of the student media leaders work two to three jobs); the ability to pay our contributors who are currently unpaid volunteers (p.s. this also means YOU can get a piece of the pie); establish a pool for other students to dip into and expand the student media landscape at the university, create high quality pieces of media to push the university’s transparency and artistic capabilities and produce a competitive media landscape for UNR students to be recognized across the country due to the resources of this fee.

Students can view the entire proposed legislation starting on page 5, including the proposed budgets for each student organization.

Will there be any kind of oversight if this passes?

Yes. Since 2009 all student media leaders have reported to the Student Media Advisory Board as a form of oversight and as a voting body. The SMAB consists of fifteen members: all four student media leaders; Reynolds School of Journalism senator; one students at large not affiliated with student media; RSJ dean or faculty designee; one university faculty member; Coordinator for Student Publications and Marketing; ASUN Vice President; Associate Director of the Center for Student Engagement; two additional students at large chosen by either the ASUN Vice President or ASUN Senators.

For any additional questions about the ballot question please reach out to edrewes@sagebrush.unr.edu or the additional student media leaders and we may add it to the list.

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