Student Congress has no business altering the behaviors of campus publications. But a proposed bill in Congress would do just that.
Congress members should vote down bill 91-125, “A Bill to Incentivize Web Publishing.”
The bill is well thought out and has an interesting proposal, but it puts Congress in the position to make planning decisions that should be made by campus publications. Not Congress.
The bill creates an equation that ties print-issue funding for campus publications to how many issues they publish online.
For example, if a publication produces six issues a year and doesn’t publish any on the Web, Congress will fund half of that publication’s print issues, minus one — so two. If that publication has one issue online, Congress will fund half its print issues. If the publication has two or more issues online, Congress will fund half that publication’s issues, plus one — so four.
If the bill is passed, Congress will effectively force publications to move some content online.
That could position Congress, in the distant future, to justify decreasing the money it allocates for printing campus publications.
But campus publications are about students testing out and exchanging ideas on campus, in the University community.
As it is, there’s not an online University community. Student print publications have a campus forum to distribute to.
There’s not a way to replicate that campus forum online yet. The Web is too decentralized and still too primitive.
We’re simply not at a point yet where we can have an effective exchange of ideas on campus without paper.
Plus, we think that publications should move online when it’s beneficial to them. Not when Congress thinks they should move online.
Congress members seem to have put a lot of thought and time into drafting this bill. But members need to vote it down at tonight’s meeting.
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