The Wesleyan student body failed to pass a referendum that would have created a student voluntary opt-out fee to create a Media Publications Fund.
The referendum, called the “Media Resolution,” required two-thirds of all voters to vote in favor of the creation of the fund. Only 15.6 percent of voters voted against the resolution. However, 37.5 percent of voters abstained, and 46.8 percent of voters voted in favor of the resolution. As a result, the resolution failed.
Modeled after the Green Fund, the $13 per-semester fee would have separated the Media Publications Fund from the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) beginning in the 2017-18 school year. In addition to the referendum, the Board of Trustees would have to also approve the measure in February 2017.
The referendum was set up by a bill, Resolution 15.37, that passed through the WSA Senate on April 3. That bill aimed to make publications largely independent from the WSA.
“There’s anywhere between a cause for concern to a blatant conflict of interest when a student government is directly funding media publications that, in good conscience, has to be critical of them at times,” Jack Minton ’18 said in an Argus article published following that resolution passing.
That resolution also aimed to eliminate future conflicts between the WSA and The Argus. In the fall, the WSA passed a resolution that potentially set the framework for reducing the printing budget of The Argus by 57 percent, and this semester the Student Budget Committee stated on March 14 that they were planning to reassume The Argus’ funding. The Argus published editorials in both cases criticizing the moves and in the more recent instance, the SBC responded by stating that the reassumption was standard procedure.
A description of the resolution, written next to the button for voting, stated, “A crucial aspect of this long-term solution [to eliminate conflict between The Argus and the WSA] is the creation of a ‘Media Publications Fund’ for the sole purpose of funding student publications without any conflict of interest.”
Because the referendum failed to pass, at least $60,000 will be taken out of the Student Activities Fee every year to fund the Media Publications Fund, rather than coming from a separate fund.
The Media Publications Fund Committee, which allocates the Media Publications Fund, will create its own set of bylaws, according to the resolution.