Committee endorses nonprofit plan for Colo. State student media

COLORADO -- Colorado State University officials plan to present a proposal next month to the university system's Board of Governors that would convert the school's entire student media department into an independent nonprofit corporation.

A 16-member advisory committee endorsed that concept in its May 1 report.

"While it would require a tremendous effort in terms of all the planning and re-organization, [the nonprofit model] may ultimately resolve difficult entanglements that come from the university publisher relationship that would be more effectively resolved through an external publishing board," the committee concluded.

Colorado State formed the committee in February to consider proposals to restructure the student newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian. Commercial media giant Gannett -- owner of USA Today -- had approached the school in January with a proposal to buy the Collegian, sparking strong opposition from students. Earlier in the school year, the

Collegian had drawn national attention and criticism by printing a four-word, large-print editorial: "Taser this ... Fuck Bush."

Although the panel initially planned to assess only the Collegian's structure, committee members broadened that mandate to include the whole student media department, which also houses College Avenue magazine, KCSU radio and CTV. The panel concluded that it was essential for all four outlets to remain together and recommended the nonprofit model.

The report said an alternative model -- strengthening the existing Board of Student Communications and bolstering it with an external, non-university appeals process -- also would be acceptable, but a majority of the panel concluded the nonprofit model would be best.

Committee chairwoman Blanche Hughes, the school's vice president of student affairs, recommended to university President Larry Penley on May 6 that Colorado State adopt the nonprofit option, and Penley authorized Hughes to prepare an implementation plan to present at the June Board of Governors meeting, according to a school press release.

The presentation to the board will focus mainly on the legal details of the potential conversion, said Anne Hudgens, executive director of campus life. Hudgens said no timeline has been set for how long the conversion would take if approved.

"I think there's an understanding that it would be a multiyear process to complete," Hudgens said.

Aaron Montoya, the incoming Collegian editor in chief, said the endorsement of the nonprofit model is "a small victory for us at student media," but he said much would depend on the implementation details.

"This could turn into something completely different than intended," Montoya said.

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