$75,000 required if Star to be URO

By Sean Noble

The Faculty Assembly Wednesday received a report concerning a possible status of The Northern Star, which would require an additional $75,000 in student fees.

Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, told the assembly he supported a new student fee if the Star became a University-Related Organization.

Dalton told assembly members that NIU administration had examined the costs that would be involved in the possible change of the campus newspaper to URO status.

As a URO, the Star would be governed by a university-appointed board of directors. The university also would manage the paper’s payroll and lease its equipment.

Assembly member James Lankford said the new arrangement “would solidify the paper and the university on a contract basis.”

Dalton said, “We tried to identify the old costs of running the Star and the new costs that would be required to make the Star a URO.”

In a memo he presented to the assembly, Dalton outlined the possible costs that would become necessary in the event of a change. The memo proposal stated, “NIU will seek new revenues in the amount of $75,894 annually, beginning July 1, 1988, to cover additional expenses incurred by The Northern Star in moving to a URO status.”

The memo showed a new fee would be needed to cover such things as salaries and insurance.

Dalton said, “I would favor a student fee to support this change.”

Results from a recent University of Texas in Arlington survey of 26 colleges showed 17 had some student fee support for their campus newspapers, Dalton said. He said two universities, including NIU, used only non-student funds. All of the schools surveyed were of “roughly the same student body and paper circulation size as NIU,” he said.

The President’s Fee Study Committee has opposed the use of a new student fee in changing the Star’s status to a URO, Dalton said.

Lankford said he also supported a student fee to implement the URO change. “I believe it is time for the students to chip in their fair share” of supporting the Star, he said.

Lankford said NIU pays $7,500 annually to cover faculty and staff subscriptions for the Star.

Dalton also said the Star’s student management and publication boards are opposed to the proposed URO change.

Norden Gilbert, NIU Associate Legal Counsel and chairman of The Northern Star Publication Board, said a new fee supporting the Star would undermine the “independence from the university” wanted by proponents of the status change.

“Getting the university to allocate $75,000 to the Star would be a very tenuous independence,” he said. Gilbert said that amount could be raised or lowered by the university easily, because student fees are reviewed annually.

Gilbert said the University Council, which passed the original URO recommendation last spring, asked that no general revenue funds be used to pay for the status change.

Another reason the publication board opposes the URO option is that it would allow the university to “hire anybody they want,” Gilbert said.

Northern Star Editor Dave Duschene agreed. “The proposed constitution and bylaws leave some questions regarding the board of directors unanswered,” he said. The board of directors could “choose the personnel they want,” he said.

Gilbert said NIU could choose to fill positions formerly occupied by students with other professional, full-time staff, which would be “detrimental to the learning experience the Star tries to give students.”

The UC will examine the issue of a possible status change for the Star at its regular meeting next Wednesday.