Letter to the Editor: Media board ire on computer denial

In response to The News article, “Media groups denied funds” (July 3) Media Board would like to comment further on the Budget Review Committee (BRC) denial of our capital requests.

The Media Board Finance Committee submitted its four annual capital requests for Tje Cauldron, the Northeastern Patriot, Spectrum and Tastemakers. Cauldron’s request, the only one approved, was to replace an outdated computer. The three other requests were to purchase necessary new computers.

The BRC’s decision to deny The Patriot and Tastemakers’ requests was based on the opinion that “an organization should exhibit at least one year of stable operations and fiscal responsibility before being entrusted with equipment.”

At that time, both organizations had been producing issues for a year using money from advertising sales, grants and their own bank accounts, demonstrating both stable operations and fiscal responsibility. Also, these groups are approved for BRC funding – based on Media Board’s own approval process – during the 2007-08 academic year, which means they will be supplied the money to publish issues without the proper equipment to publish them.

Spectrum’s denial was based on the rationale that it has equipment to “operate at an acceptable level” and that “alternative resources exist” if necessary. Spectrum has been well received in recent years due to high quality and a more inclusive attitude. However, it has reached a plateau of development and without a dedicated layout computer, the magazine will be unable to allow a significant number of staff members to become involved in its publication.

There are many computers distributed among the Media Board, but none is wasted. We cannot reallocate equipment between organizations. We also cannot “borrow” equipment from one another due to the layout software we use. When a layout file is moved to another computer, it loses information, and much of it must be recreated.

This situation calls into question the concept of Media Board’s autonomy. As outlined in our charter, the Media Board “may develop [our] organizational policies free from censorship and threat of reprisal.” This relates to both the administration and student government.

While we do not doubt the motives of the BRC in this matter, we feel the precedent established by this decision leaves the door open for future censorship and a degradation of our freedoms of speech and press. We have appealed these decisions and will continue the appeals process to the highest level until we are satisfied with the decision.

– Stephen Asay is the interim chair of the Student Media Board and is financial manager for the Spectrum.

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