Undergraduate Student Government approved a $9 student publication fee for the Daily Egyptian on Tuesday to help the newspaper survive detrimental advertising losses.
The 13-8 vote followed a debate in which some senators said the fee was too steep and that the DE was not important to students. The majority said a student paper was important to the university and employed nearly 80 people whose jobs would be in jeopardy.
The DE is one of a small number of college papers in the country that does not receive student or university assistance. Carbondale’s sister campus, SIUE, prints a weekly newspaper, The Alestle, and receives a $7.80 fee.
USG President Adrian Miller said the fee is necessary for continued publication of the newspaper.
“I understand fees are controversial,” he said. “But to have a student outlet, and a student-run newspaper is vital to our campus.”
The former request for a $10 publication fee failed by two votes at the Nov. 19 USG meeting. USG senator Christopher Wheetley said the $9 fee came as a compromise.
“Some of the students I represent originally had concerns about paying the $9 fee per semester. It is a small price to pay to maintain that issues, particularly relevant to students, are reported,” he said. “The Daily Egyptian offers a unique opportunity to every student on campus. When students were made more educated on what the DE does and can offer them, students rallied to support it.”
Daily Egyptian Editor-in-Chief Kayli Plotner said as a student, she understands how fees can be perceived, but this fee will be worth it.
“I’ve been going to area council meetings and talking to the students themselves about this issue,” she said. “Once they are fully informed of what the DE can do for them and realize we are suffering with no financial support, they want to help.”
Miller said a student newspaper is vital as a voice for the student body.
“It’s important to have a student newspaper as an outlet for students to challenge the administration and each other,” he said. “We feel the DE is a quality paper that deserves a fee.”
Wheetley said the fee helps ensure the reporting of a student’s perspective at SIU will continue.
“A student newspaper being helped out by students, speaks to the character and maturity of the SIU student body,” he said.
Other allocations passed at Tuesday’s meeting include $1,000 to Alpha Eta Rho for a national conference, $1,250 to the Women’s Business Association for lodging and travel, and $10,000 to sponsor Springfest.
“I feel while we want to have Springfest, we aren’t at the dollar amount to have a big name here on campus,” Miller said. “$10,000 puts us back to where we were last year, and I hope they can get funding from other sources and have a great event here on campus.”
Three senators were also voted into USG: Mershon Caissie and Daniel Schmidt from the College of Agriculture, and DeMario Phipps-Smith from the College of Mass Communications.
The next USG meeting will be at 6 p.m. Jan. 21, in the Student Services Building.