Save the Aggie

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Ballot Measure 1, aka Save the Aggie, was a ballot measure in the Winter 2014 ASUCD Election that intended to impose a new student fee to provide financial support for The California Aggie. As with any new fee initiative, the measure had to receive 60%+1 vote and see a voter turnout of at least 20% to pass. This was the first fee referendum in five years, the last one being the ill-fated The Green Initiative Fund. The ASUCD Elections Committee originally announced that it was passed with 72.92% in favor and 27.08% against with 27.11% voter turnout, according the the results posted on the elections website [WWW]"published here".

An ASUCD Court case, Chen v. ASUCD Elections Committee, was subsequently filed on February 27 to invalidate passage of the measure. The court heard oral arguments and published a verdict on March 13 finding in favor of the petitioner: the measure was improperly passed and all ASUCD actions that resulted from the improper passage are ordered reversed and vacated. The court also ordered the ASUCD Elections Committee to hold a new election in Spring quarter for Measure 1.

Ballot Language

Do you support a permanent student fee which will fund the following?

Fees Per Quarter*
The California Aggie: $3.10
Return to Aid: $0.78
Total: $3.88
*These amounts are in addition to quarterly fees and other future fee changes that may be assessed by the Regents of the University of California or other authority.

_ YES, I approve of the Save the Aggie Initiative.

_ NO, I do not approve of the Save the Aggie Initiative.

Ballot Information

OVERVIEW

This initiative is designed to provide funding to The California Aggie and a Return to Aid (funds provided for Financial Aid to offset fees created by this Initiative). Under the passage of this initiative, The California Aggie will be able to expand its current production capabilities, provide fair wages for its employees, increase its online presence, and invest in itself in order to provide an improved newspaper. Without this initiative, The California Aggie cannot function into the next academic year.

If passed, the fees outlined in this referendum will be assessed starting spring quarter 2014.

DESCRIPTION

The California Aggie - This fee for The California Aggie shall be used to restore its daily academic service of news to the UC Davis community. Specific allocations of funds will be made during an annual budget process during which the Campus Media Board will review and approve a budget that must then be ratified by two-thirds (2/3rds) of the ASUCD Senate and by the ASUCD President.

Return to Aid – The undergraduate fee will provide funding to support first those students with the greatest financial need (those who are eligible for support from Pell Grants). Any remaining balance of the financial aid funds will be allocated by the Financial Aid Office based on student need.

Initiative Provisions

Advisory Vote – The outcome of the vote shall be advisory to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, the Chancellor, and the President of the University of California.

Voting – “Minimum voting pools” have been determined in accordance with University regulations. A minimum voter turnout of twenty percent (20%) of the undergraduate student population is required for a valid vote. The exact number of undergraduate students required will be provided by the University Registrar prior to the election and will be based on the Fall Quarter 2013 census data. In addition, this initiative requires ratification by at least sixty percent (60%) plus one of undergraduate students for approval.

Life of Fee – This fee does not have an “expiration” date after which the fee is void. As such, this fee will continue in perpetuity unless it is altered through a future referendum.

Governance – The Campus Media Board will have adjustment oversight of this initiative in regards to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Adjustment of Fees – Fees collected under the Initiative may be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) currently used by the oversight body Campus Media Board, and may be adjusted accordingly (up or down) on an annual basis by the oversight body.

Fee Participation – This fee will be assessed to all undergraduate students as a part of their regular fall, winter, and spring quarterly fees. Additionally, one half (1/2) of the total fee will be assessed to all students attending each summer session.

Return-to-Aid - Consistent with the University of California Office of the President Policy (Policy 80.00: Compulsory Campus-Based Student Fees), an amount equal to twenty-five percent (25%) of the proposed fee shall be provided for need-based financial aid (return-to-aid) for undergraduate students. This will provide funding to support those undergraduate students with the greatest financial need (those who are eligible for support from Pell Grants). Also, any remaining balance of the financial aid funds shall be allocated by the Financial Aid Office based on undergraduate student need.

Pro Ballot Statement

candidate.jpg

For 99 years, The California Aggie has served as UC Davis’ main news source and working laboratory for students interested in journalism. The Aggie has been experiencing the same financial difficulties that the rest of the print industry has endured, resulting in reduced printing days, diminished staff pay and limited opportunities to improve. This is the first time in its history that YOU have the chance to show your support for this historic newspaper.

We’re asking for a permanent student fee of $3.10 per student, per quarter. With this money, we will add one more day of print, bring back summer session printing, bring on two professional staff members to manage our finances and grow our business, bring back pay for writers, photographers and assistant managers and have the opportunity for staff development and awards.

Without this initiative, The California Aggie cannot function into the next academic year.

If you vote YES, The California Aggie will be able to expand its current production capabilities, provide fair wages for its employees, create student jobs, increase its online presence and invest in itself in order to provide the newspaper we want to produce.

We know the model works. UCLA’s The Daily Bruin, UC Berkeley’s The Daily Californian and UC Irvine’s New University have all passed referendums that helped them adapt to this industry-wide situation and grow to become competitive, impressive newspapers. Yes, we’re asking for a permanent fee — but we’re not the first to do so. (The Daily Bruin has a permanent fee as well). This is the first step in ensuring The Aggie’s stability and success for 100 more years.

If this doesn’t pass, the newspaper will go out of print and will no longer be able to ensure accountability of the ASUCD and UC Davis administrations or serve as the best hands-on experience for students interested in journalism.

Don’t forget to vote YES on Measure 1 #SaveTheAggie Feb. 18-21 at elections.ucdavis.edu. If you have any questions or want to get involved, please feel free to email editor@theaggie.org.

Con Ballot Statement

Six years ago, The California Aggie was printing five days a week. Now it's unlikely to reach its 100th anniversary. Citing recent fee initiatives at UC Berkeley and UCLA, The Aggie is begging you to save it. While some oppose this initiative because of increased fees, there's another reason to vote no. The ASUCD Business and Finance Commission failed this initiative, and understanding their reasons will help explain further why you should too.

In her presentation ([WWW]http://prezi.com/rp015divlc-c/save-the-aggie/), Editor-In-Chief Elizabeth Orpina laid out The Aggie's plan. $68,940 was allocated to printing another day each week and $17,917 was allocated to printing during summer. Print media is a dying industry as consumers move to electronic sources. Berkeley recognized this when their paper allocated the vast majority of their student fee to hire ten web developers. Yet here, no money was allocated for web or mobile app developers, key positions in moving online. There was no evidence that The Aggie had done long range, strategic planning. This is the organization that exceeded their printing budget by $20,671 and fell short of their projected income by $137,705 last year. Within the last five years, The Aggie depleted its entire reserves. The five-year budget projections that UCLA used effectively were absent.

Additionally, this fee lacks accountability. Unlike Berkeley's fee, which ends after five years, this initiative raises fees permanently. It provides no period after which to reevaluate The Aggie's performance. Unlike UCLA's fee, which is overseen by two boards of fifteen members, this fee is overseen by a committee that hasn't effectively met in two years and wasn't informed that The Aggie was seeking student fees. While Berkeley and UCLA managed their paper better, sought help long before they needed it, made sure to explicitly define performance goals, and also ensured oversight, Davis is asking for the most money: student fees constitute ~10% of The Daily Cal's budget and ~14% of The Daily Bruin's budget, but would constitute ~75% of The Aggie's budget if this initiative passes.

On February 11th, the ASUCD President Carly Sandstrom called a special meeting attended by the bill authors, the ASUCD Senate, the ASUCD Business Manager Janice Corbett, Student Affairs Controller Tracy Bennett, and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Life Milton Lang. The meeting was in regard to required revisions to the measure in order for it to follow the campus Policies and Procedures Manual. It is important for the student body to understand a vote in favor of this measure is ultimately "advice" to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Adela de la Torre. Now if the measure does not fulfill university requirements, then the "advice" is invalid.

With the cessation of The Aggie looming, it is easy to panic and demand action. But even in a crisis, we must move with thought, not by reflex. Demand oversight and more thorough research to be done so a superior measure can be presented. Vote no and seek for a higher quality, financially stable, environmentally friendly Aggie.

Comments:

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2014-02-09 22:03:23   Why am I not surprised that this ended up needing student fees to continue? —hankim


2014-02-18 14:08:34   My largest gripe about the "Pro" statement is this part:

"If this doesn’t pass, the newspaper will go out of print and will no longer be able to ensure accountability of the ASUCD and UC Davis administrations or serve as the best hands-on experience for students interested in journalism."


2014-02-20 14:40:39   Permanent fee raise... no yearly assessment unlike other campuses...

What does the Aggie need with $70k extra per quarter anyway? That is a huge sum of money. In the end, it looks like it's going to go to the two "professional" staff members and paying the student writers. So, basically, The Aggie staff is lobbying this bill so they get paid to write. Seems like they have their own agenda.

The Aggie needs to adapt to the digital age. We no longer use typewriters; the printing press came out over five hundred years ago. The digital era has dawned, almost dusked, and they need to adapt, not let the students pick up the bill.

Quite frankly, The Aggie is distracting during class. Students just read the newspaper and don't learn. It's akin to having Facebook on your laptop, only less discrete.

The print problem is happening with newspapers worldwide, and that's why they're going on the world wide web! —JimPage


2014-03-12 13:58:09   Jim, printing costs at the Aggie have always been extremely expensive. I remember the last "golden days" of the Aggie when I was there from 2004-2008. We had a color front and back page every day, and a full-color "Muse" insert every Thursday. We were in print five days a week. It slowly went downhill after bad management squandered money on poor technology purchases and advertising income dwindled. Even in B&W and reduced print frequency, printing is still a large cost.

Paying the student writers and photographers is one of the best things the Aggie ever did. Why should we take money from the people who work hard to produce content? Sadly it was beginning to turn into a reflection of the internship and early career patterns we see with content producers: a world where people get paid (almost) nothing to produce content, just so they can have "experience," a "portfolio," or "free advertising." I'm proud that the 12-20 hours I put in a week with the Aggie got me something in return, and I'm glad that the student body agreed that it should be returned to that model. —AndrewLeonard


2014-03-28 23:01:22   Does the Aggie have any plans for a mobile application? Also, I recall some some time ago, maybe here on this wiki, there was some talk about making their archive of old issues available online? Is that something that is still possible? Is the data available for someone to work with? —PaulAmnuaypayoat

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