Colo. State signs agreement to separate student media as nonprofit corporation

COLORADO -- Colorado State University released Friday the formal agreement between the university and the Rocky Mountain Student Media Corporation (SMC), a new nonprofit organization formed from CSU's former student media department.

A panel of Colorado State students, officials and professors, and community experts recommended the student media department separate from the university in May, and the university's Board of Governors decided to follow the suggestion in June. SMC is waiting for approval from the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status, which could take several months and will make the corporation tax-exempt, but it will act as a nonprofit beginning Aug. 1, according to the operating agreement.

SMC will be a separate entity from the university with a governing board of five students and four non-students. The university will appoint two members and two will come from the community, said Larry Steward, President of SMC and one of the community board members.

The agreement outlines SMC's role with the university and details specific guidelines the nonprofit must meet to receive funding. The agreement specifies how many times a year the Collegiate must publish but holds no control over editorial content.

SMC will run the newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian; magazine, College Avenue; radio station, KCSU; and television station, CTV. The university will provide space for the nonprofit to lease along with $1 million over the course of the 2009 fiscal year. The agreement breaks down how the funding will be given to SMC beginning July 28 and ending Jan. 15.

"It separates the university of content issues, but doesn't separate it from financial issues," Steward said.

Stewart said one of the concerns when forming the corporation was student salary, and the possible loss of student positions and influence. The agreement shows no decrease in salary or positions for students.

According to the agreement, the university and the nonprofit will meet in May 2009 and May 2010 to reexamine and discuss funding for the following years.

"The overall intent is to continue to have a long-term relationship with the independent student media organization to provide information to students," CSU Dean of Students Anne Hudgens said.

Talk of the separation began in February, when the university formed a committee to consider options to restructure the Collegian after the paper garnered national attention for a controversial editorial reading "Taser this ... Fuck Bush" in September and Gannett -- owner of USA Today -- considered buying the newspaper in January.

The proposal to form the SMC nonprofit was "recommended with the support of students," Vice President of Student Affairs Blanche Hughes said in a press release. "The committee that reviewed potential student media arrangements felt that a non-profit organization would best support student interest and education."

SMC hopes to be more student-oriented and student-focused, Collegian

Editor in Chief Aaron Montoya said.

"I hope that it gives student media a chance to be a little more autonomous," Montoya said.

The Collegian continued to print updates for students throughout the summer, but the paper has not received much feedback from readers. With school starting back Aug. 25, SMC does not want returning students to notice a difference, Montoya said.

So far the students involved with organizations are pleased with the switch, Montoya said.

"Things have gone the way we hoped they would in that we're moving towards becoming a private entity," Montoya said. "That was our main goal."

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