Colo. State board OKs plan for student media independence

COLORADO -- Colorado State University announced Tuesday that it will officially separate its student media organizations from the university, registering them as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

The plan was approved during a Colorado State University Board of Governors meeting in Fort Collins. The board considered two recommendations released May 1 by a university committee composed of students, advisors and faculty members.

According to the announcement, Student Media, which is composed of the Rocky Mountain Collegian, College Avenue Magazine, KCSU radio and CTV television, plans to operate as a non-profit corporation by the beginning of the fall semester.

"It's going to be a really tight deadline to go non-profit. But I think that we can do it," said Collegian Editor in Chief Aaron Montoya.

Greg Luft, chairman of the university's journalism department, said the two options presented to the Board of Governors were to leave the current student media organization the way it was or to re-create Student Media as a non-profit corporation, separate from the university.

"I think that the committee felt that the 501(c)(3) was a viable option. It is done at a lot of universities and has a successful track record," Luft said.

Larry Stewart, a former Student Media director, was named interim president of Student Media.

"We need to set up the infrastructure the university used to provide. That is really my main concern. All of the logistics for Student Media have to in place by August 1," Stewart said.

Stewart said he plans to serve as president of Student Media until a governing board of directors can be formed. Then, Stewart says, he will offer his resignation.

"We are setting up Student Media as an entirely independent corporation from the university," Stewart said. "There will be an operating contract between Colorado State and Student Media, but its independence is not up for negotiation."

Montoya shared Stewart's confidence that Student Media will remain free from university control.

"I'm not really worried about it. I feel as though the organization of Student Media will not provide so close of an affiliation that would allow the university to edit our content," Montoya said.

According to a press release issued by Colorado State, Student Media will receive an annual fee of $500,000 for operational services as well as $450,000 in transitional funds for the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. In addition, Student Media will receive another $250,000 in assistance from its already existing auxiliary reserves.

The decision to separate was a long process, Stewart said.

"It has been proposed before, but it was decided that making Student Media a non-profit just wasn't right at the time," Stewart said.

The latest and successful push for creating a 501(c)(3) came after controversy swirled around a Sept. 21 editorial -- which read, "Taser This...Fuck Bush" -- in the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

However, Luft said the recommendation to the Board of Governors to form the 501(c)(3) was less a reaction to the editorial than a result of the dissolved proposal by Gannett Inc, owner of The Coloradoan and national newspaper USA Today, to purchase the Collegian.

"The editorial did come up in our meeting, but it wasn't a big point," Luft said.

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