Currently on the table for the Wesleyan Student Assembly is Resolution X.38, or “Resolution Increasing Readership Numbers and Work Study Funding for Publications.” The resolution, introduced on Oct. 4 by Alex Garcia ’17, would reduce The Argus’ yearly printing budget by 57 percent, or from $30,000 a year to $13,000 and use the funds taken to create 20 work study positions for various student publications on campus. It is likely that many details of this resolution will be voted on by members of the WSA this Sunday, Oct. 18, at the Senate meeting. We believe this resolution will prove ineffective and inhibit The Argus’ ability to increase inclusivity. We urge the members of the WSA to vote against its passage, and we call upon students to reconsider the half-conceived changes it proposes.

If the resolution is passed, the student body will vote on which publications it regards as most deserving of work study positions. As the resolution reads, “Work-­Study positions and Facebook boosted post credits will be allocated based on publication popularity.” The publications that come in first and second place in the vote will each receive seven work study positions and $800 to be used toward Facebook ad credit or website upgrades. The third- and fourth-place publications will each receive three work study positions and $200 to be used toward Facebook ad credit or website upgrades. Additionally, all student publications will be archived in Olin.

The Argus’s current budget of around $15,000 per semester is broken down as follows: $12,435.00 for printing money, $75.00 for office supplies, and $1,147.28 for our printer lease. The Argus typically prints each issue as 12 pages, 1000 copies, and with color on the front and back pages, at a total cost of $464.48 per issue. Reducing printing to 600 copies per issue, which would cut the current number by nearly half, would lower that to only $437.53. The vast majority of our printing money is used to create an offset printing plate for each issue of the newspaper, so cutting down the number of copies we print of each issue would lower our printing costs only marginally.

Currently, The Argus holds 72.2 percent of the funding allotted by the Student Budget Committee to student publications and receives more funding than Method Magazine, Aural Wes, The Ankh, and The Hermes do combined. However, producing two issues a week featuring approximately 20 articles each, The Argus prints more frequently and produces more written content each month than any other publication on campus. The Argus also spends significantly less money on each issue than the vast majority of publications on campus do. With 30 editors and over 110 staff writers, photographers, layout staff, and copy staff members, The Argus involves far more students than other publications and most student groups on campus.

While The Argus’ editorial and writer positions are voluntary, the newspaper currently offers nine paid positions to four layout employees (including a production manager), a head copy editor, a distribution manager, an advertising manager, a business manager, and a web editor. The students who hold these positions are paid minimum wage (or in the case of the distribution manager, $12.50 to compensate for gas) with funds from the revenue from our print advertisements rather than from money provided by the Student Budget Committee. In past years, the SBC paid some of the students who held these positions, but in the 2012-2013 academic year, it ceased to fund them. Despite the WSA’s decision to cut this funding and despite the occasional difficulty of producing sufficient advertising revenue to pay our student employees, offering paid positions has remained a priority for The Argus. We are devoted to providing students who are reliant on work study payment with opportunities to join our community and gain experience working in media.

Unfortunately, the resolution may affect the number of paid positions we can offer. If forced to reduce the number of print issues we produce each semester, we would be unable to provide the job opportunities in layout and distribution that we do now due to the loss of advertising funds and potentially, pages to design. In effect, if the resolution passes, even if The Argus is voted in the top two publications, we would be paying fewer students less than we currently are. Furthermore, if the WSA’s ultimate goal is to transform The Argus into an entirely digital publication, then many of these positions would be eradicated entirely. Our attachment to print goes beyond the sentimental (though the experience of reading a hard copy of a newspaper is undeniably valuable); it is a matter of providing students of all backgrounds with opportunities to learn first-hand about the process of creating print media. These positions offer some of the few regular opportunities on campus for design-oriented students to both learn and practice skills. Furthermore, as a newspaper, the end result of printing with a hard deadline is vital because it forces the paper to remain at the pulse of events on and around campus. No other campus publication covers events, student groups, or news as consistently as The Argus does.

While we share the WSA’s commitment to making the Argus staff more representative of Wesleyan’s student body, we see some major oversights in the proposed resolution. The first is its conflation of socioeconomic and racial diversity; while the creation of work study positions would provide writers with opportunities to be paid for their work, there is no way to guarantee that these writers will be students of color. Secondly, while the resolution promises to pay writers, it does not take into account The Argus’ editorial positions. Section editors work approximately 10 hours a week and editors-in-chief approximately 25, more time than the SBC can afford to compensate students for working. This means that the writers on the WSA’s work study program would be unable to accept promotion offers that would place them in leadership roles and allow them to become more involved members of The Argus. Our editorial staff is largely white; in order to make our leaders more representative of the community we aim to represent, the structural changes implemented need to be thought out more thoroughly.

Lastly, we take issue with how the resolution measures the importance of campus publications. It will rely on students’ votes rather than taking into account online traffic, the amount of content produced by each organization, and the number of students involved in each group. This ignores the vital differences between the publications involved. As essential as literary magazines, specialty newspapers, and zines are to our community, they do not require the same funds as a regular newspaper that publishes 40-50 articles per week.

If we have learned anything from our conversations with the student body in the past month, it is precisely how charged, complicated, and multidimensional issues of race and representation are on this campus and in this country. As it stands, the resolution simply doesn’t address the core of these issues. There is no easy solution, but we’ve started to confront some of The Argus’ long-standing obstacles by executing small but meaningful changes. Our editorial staff recently participated in SALD-sponsored Social Justice Education training, and we are in the process of developing a new Editor of Equity and Inclusion position, as well as new outreach programs. These initiatives can’t transform The Argus right away, but transformation takes time. This is where the resolution fails: It is reactionary and therefore disregards its broader implications. Issues of race, representation, and publication deserve careful attention, and creating a course of action to address them merits more consideration than we have given them. We believe that these changes can only be achieved through collaboration between The Argus and the student body, rather than government-imposed restrictions. Wesleyan is a lively and multifaceted community. If anything, this newspaper could best serve it by publishing more articles on more areas of student life, not fewer.

  • Alex Garcia ’17

    A great article written by Rebecca Brill and Tess Morgan addressing some of the flaws of the current draft of my resolution addressing “Increasing Readership and Work-Study Positions at Publications.”

    I’m honestly very happy someone took the time to read through it and give me their thoughts! I recommend others to read through this and add on to the concerns brought up by the editors of the Wesleyan Argus.

    I’m in the process of drafting changes that address many of the concerns brought up over the past 20 days. Including but not limited to: funding for editors, .25 academic credit for all writers (suggested by admin itself), new paid roles for layout editors on the web and digital signage around campus (ITS and Usdan really excited about this), a more fair voting/ranking system, and clarifying the impact paid positions make on socioeconomic and racial diversity.

    For this Sunday I’m planning on calling to a vote on a timeline and affirmation of the basic components of this proposal: stipends, academic credit, and digitalization. The timeline allows for details to be changed throughout this semester as informed arguments conclude on how to best implement this.

    I do have to be honest though that I do not believe that newspapers in print form are going to survive in the long run. The writing is on the wall industry wide, and it’d be best if we start re-tooling the old positions into the more dynamic ones available. Think interactive graphics, smart curation, and web optimized layouts. As with any technological change there is disruption, and I see the case of digitalizing The Wesleyan Argus as no different. It’s an exciting time to be in the media industry, and I hope we can be more excited than fearful about these upcoming discussions and changes.

    • mdsman

      When did you first propose this resolution?

    • Anonymous

      Please explain “more fair”? What do you believe you’re trying to remedy?

    • Wes ’16

      Hey Alex… Maybe realize that being the vice president of a student government doesn’t qualify you to make judgements about what the right move is for the student newspaper?

      I appreciate the fact that you’re responding to the criticism against you, but maybe take the time to actually think about what other students actually want (you know the people you claim to represent) and the broader implications cutting the budget of a student group by over half because less then 5% of the students on campus didn’t like what they were saying. And I use that 5% loosely as a handful of the people who signed the petition are alumni, staff, or bizarrely a community member. Plus I’m not sure counting the members of the class of 2019 is particularly valid considering they were on campus for approximately 2 weeks before the article was published. I’m not sure how you can “recogniz[e] that the paper has historically failed to be an inclusive representation of the voices of the student body” when you’ve only been a member of the student body for 2 weeks.

      I’m much more inclined to think that the WSA is determined to pass legislation that can be seen as “innovative” or “forward thinking” than I am to think you guys are doing it to censor the vast majority of student journalists, but I’m losing faith everyday that this is actually the case, especially if this is the timing of it.

      When you allow people who threw garbage and yelled death threats at a student to be the kinds of students you want to represent, you do a disservice to the members of the community who actually uphold what Wesleyan claims to stand for.

      Had the people who created the petition written articles for the op-ed section of the Argus, I have zero doubt that their content would have been included. The barrier to the Argus they claim is preventing them from joining and representing the ideas they care about simply does not exist in any real form. Yes, obviously if you are balancing a full schedule and a work study position, writing for the student newspaper isn’t as accessible. However, conflating socioeconomic status with race is down right insulting and there was a way around this considering there were work-study positions available until the SBC cut them. But wait, who runs the SBC? The WSA. You created the barrier to entry the protestors are so adamant bars them from participating at the Argus.

      Take a look in the mirror and understand that you created this problem and are now making it 10 times worse. By making funding a popularity contest, you are damaging journalistic integrity. No journalist should have to worry that their publication isn’t popular enough to merit your funding.

      By claiming that this is a measure to digitize the campus publications, you’re hiding behind a smoke screen. You ran on a campaign of transparency if I recall correctly. Maybe act like it and at least admit that what you are doing is related to the very small, albeit vocal group of mostly students pressuring you into this.

  • Anonymous

    It’s hard to see how this won’t sent the following signal to editors of all campus publications: publish an opinion that departs from progressive orthodoxy at the peril of your funding.

    • Alex Garcia

      For those looking for the details of the proposal read it for yourself here: http://www.kaiwes.com/future-of-media

      Quick Summary:

      •Funding for The Wesleyan Argus staff and editors would be increased dramatically under this proposal (granted that the Argus does well in the ranking system) and funding for printing would be decreased. In short: people over paper.

      •Funding for other student publications that opt-in will also rise dramatically under this proposal. See proposal below.

      •This proposal will be worked on for the next few months, will a potential roll out Spring 2016 or Fall 2016.

      •The process is being structured to encourage and invite feedback. The proposal has changed significantly over the past 20 days to address feedback from stakeholders.

      • Anonymous

        That doesn’t address Conor’s point: that this is entirely a pretext to punishing a publication for printing something people disagreed with. Given that this effort started after the calls for decreasing the Argus’ funding began, it’s hard to see it otherwise.

      • Anonymous

        Alex, how about you show some integrity by stating honestly why you want to defund the paper? You disgrace academia when you take actions like these and bring your character into question.

  • Anonymous

    Liberals = fascists who support censorship

    • Anonymous

      This is not about liberalism. It is about fascism though.

      • Hobbes

        Modern liberalism is fascism, I’m afraid.

      • Anonymous

        Nah. But that’s a very popular claim in the right wing talkosphere.

      • Hobbes

        Um Ya. Look at the political stances of Mussolini and Hitler. Then compare them to the political parties representing the liberals and conservatives.

        Politically, the modern liberal is far more in tune with yesteryear’s facist.

      • ZB

        Fascism is partnership of government and private business. Ask Volkswagen, IG Farben, Bayer, etc… Sounds a lot more like conservatism than progressivism to me.

      • Hobbes

        The first sentence is
        correct. The last sentence is not. Progressivism pushes strong
        regulation of biz (It is one way to become a partner is to force it)
        Look at Solendra. Look at Ocare. Look at GE. Who wants more regulation on
        biz? Conservatives or Progressives?

        The gov’t is choosing
        renewables over fossil fuels. This is done by subsidies and regulations.
        Regulate one and subsidize the other. Who is pushing
        this? Conservatives or
        Progressives?

        The gov’t is choosing
        healthcare insurance options. The Cadillac
        tax on plans it deems too good. Regulate
        and subsidize or punish. Who is pushing this? Conservatives or Progressives?

      • Mike57Tambo

        Excellent counter, Hobbes!

      • caso0

        You clearly know absolutely nothing about the history of progressivism. Yes early progressivism was absolutely about intermingling business and government (Woodrow Wilson come to mind?) which later blossomed into fascism. Progressivism has a nasty history mired by ultra-racists and genocidal eugenecists in the pre-WW2 era. Even the labor movement and socialist types were ultra-racists and genocidal maniacs. Their goals were to uplift themselves (white workers) at the expense of minorities. This was no secret, they were quite proud of this stance. The “old right” was far more level headed. The crazies were mainly the progressives.

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  • Clayton

    This is punishment for daring to criticize Black Lives Matter.

    Guess what: bullying works, so no more student newspaper.

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  • Timothy Burke

    The move to defund the Argus is a serious political and ethical mistake.

    Alex, I have to say that your language below and in your proposal comes off as very depressingly cynical and slick. There is simply no way to dodge that this proposal appears to be retaliatory move. Even if there’s merit to digitizing, that should be an initiative that comes from the Argus staff, and it should come at a different time, when there is no possible implication of a retaliatory move.

    Wesleyan has not provided a lot of great news for its proud alumni in the last few years. This is one more bit of bad news.

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  • Guestus Aurelius

    This may sound harsh, but this is all happening because of your spineless Sept. 17 editorial, in which you apologized for running a (rather innocuous) opinion piece that ruffled some feathers. How quickly you abandoned core principles! It wasn’t just nauseating—it was also a major miscalculation. You’re not dealing with reasonable people here. You’re dealing with people who are out for blood. And people who are out for blood don’t accept apologies; they exploit them.

    Never apologize to people who are out for blood. Especially when you’ve done nothing wrong.

    And this piece? Just as bad. “Social Justice Education training”? “Editor of Equity and Inclusion”? This is some seriously cringeworthy self-flagellation.

    Are you a newspaper? Or are you just a propaganda outlet for whoever throws the biggest tantrum when offended? You seem to have contented yourselves with being the latter, kowtowing to the delicate sensibilities of the same coddled American minds so incisively pathologized in last month’s Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/ (really worth a read; how timely!).

  • Bob

    Ms. Morgan and Ms. Brill:

    Your mistake was cowardly giving-in to the BLM’s demands after doing nothing wrong. There is no evidence that the Argus refused to give POC positions on the Argus staff. Students of color simply chose to engage in other activities. So when confronted, why didn’t you stand your ground? You agreed to mandatory social justice indoctrination every semester? Seriously? Your willingness to abandon any semblance of neutral credibility pretty much puts the nail in the Argus’ coffin. Well that and the fact that student newspaper editors across the country are condemning the WSA, the Argus, and the Stalinist-bigots who chose threats over rational discourse “to end the conversation.”

    http://www.thecrimson.com/column/words-words-words/article/2015/10/20/column-censorship-wesleyan-argus/

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  • This is pathetic.

    Damm I hate student assembly. Once read a story about a Jewish girl being turned down from a position on it because of her religion at one college and now this Shi#?

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  • Anonymous

    The word that has kept coming to mind over the past few weeks is “disingenuous”. No amount of false enthusiasm can obscure the fact that this proposal is intended to create a literary Hunger Games that will cannibalize Argus. The fact that a movement so Orwellian and misguided could gain such traction demonstrates the risks inherent in Wesleyan’s decades of victimhood-rewarding culture. If all revolutions eat their own young, we are surely seeing an attempt at that now. Time to say “it stops here”.

  • Wes ’16

    By the way, if anyone wants to read the names on the petition that started this, here’s a hard copy since the original petition has been made private.

    https://popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Petition-against-the-Argus-Google-Docs.pdf

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  • Richard Smith

    I find it interesting that people who claim an ancestry from Hispanic, Black etc. hellholes their grandparents ran away from whine continuously about “white privilege” (which they usually spell “priviledge”, for some obscure reason) and attempt to transform a free country into a copycat of the hellholes their ancestors left. You’ve got racist “African-Americans” attempting to transform United States into Mugabe-land and you’ve got abusive “Latinos” applying the standards of freedom of murderous druglords from Mexico and Columbia and of petty dictators like Chavez or Maduro.

    It is with deep shame that I recognize how totalitarian-minded imbeciles, uneducated, police-hating pieces of manure such as Alejandro Garcia attempt to destroy valuable concepts, organizations, traditions they had no merit in creating.

    May you drag your unemployed selves through life like the parasitic yet aggressive non-entities you are. Shame on you and on the miserable parents who did such a miserable job in raising you like the future felons you are. What kind of despicable mother could raise up such a petty wannabe dictator like Alejandro Garcia? The questions answers itself.

  • Anonymous

    Black Lives Matter is just showing its cards as what it really is: a domestic terrorist group.

  • Clayton

    Do you people realize how bad this makes Wesleyan look to normal people? Criticize BLM and lose most of your funding. Oh, how open minded of you hacks.

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