When the Undergraduate Senate met Tuesday evening, it was business as usual. But with a simple procedural approval of the consent agenda, the Undergraduate Senate did something it had not done in 25 years: approved student government funding for The Daily Tar Heel.
“The DTH used to get a significant amount of student fee funding – in the six figures,” said Erica Perel, general manager of the DTH. “We defunded ourselves in 1993 because of the conflict there.”
Now with the DTH facing financial difficulties, the Board of Directors decided to take advantage of the paper’s status as an officially recognized student organization and apply for a small amount of funds to cover student expenses.
“We realized that at this point students are paying out of pocket to send other students, or to go (themselves), to things like the national championship game, for which they are not being reimbursed,” said John Hess, treasurer of the DTH Board of Directors. “These costs are not coming back because the DTH simply doesn’t have the money to reimburse them.”
The board made a presentation to the Undergraduate Finance Committee asking for $2,000 said Matt Queen, the board president. From that request, the committee granted funding of $1,000 which may decrease pending a final review.
“Since we’re serving the University with our sports coverage, we’re serving our students that way. We think it’s fair that we ask for some money to cover that,” Queen said. “The board’s position last fall, when we resolved to make this request, is that now is as good a time as any to ask for some money to help with the things that serve students and serve the University community.”
The DTH originally stopped receiving funding from student fees in order to remove any questions of journalistic integrity. This new funding is different and will in no way affect the paper’s independence, Queen said.
“That was one of the questions that we wanted to answer before we went to ask the student body for this,” Hess said. “It’s why we asked specifically for funding for travel. It does not impact the journalistic integrity of the DTH by saying, ‘We’d like money to drive to San Antonio.’"
Even if the money was for something other than travel expenses, the amount would be too small to make a significant difference in the DTH’s budget.
“It is a very small amount of money in the grand scheme of our budget, so it's not going to make a big difference in day-to-day operations,” Perel said. “But the board wanted to look at ways they could use our status as an officially recognized student group to enhance student experience.”
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