Online survey leads University of Redlands to cut student newspaper budget

CALIFORNIA -- The Bulldog, the University of Redlands student newspaper in Redlands, Calif., received a stifling bite to its funding, knocking its $39,000 budget to $10,000.

The Bulldog is supported by student funds from the College of Arts and Sciences allocated by the Association of Students. Before the spring 2008 semester ended the Association of Students President Megan MacNee, a senior at the private university, decided the paper's budget would be decreased. To arrive at her decision, MacNee used online surveys sent to every College of Arts and Sciences student via e-mail to get the students' opinions on the paper.

"Whether students support this (The Bulldog) or not is a reoccurring problem," MacNee said.

MacNee said that some students were unhappy with certain articles published, but she declined to identify which articles were called into question.

"More than anything it wasn't meeting students interest," said MacNee. "It wasn't reaching the average student."

Of the University of Redlands College of Arts and Sciences' 2,323 students, 120 responded to the survey. However, MacNee said the amount of responses received normally relies on students' interest of the topic.

A week after the Association of Students received the survey results, a resolution to cut The Bulldog's funding was met by the senate and cabinet, and varying levels of school officials, said MacNee.

"The Bulldog weekly does still exist, it just has a reduced budget," she said.

With the cuts, the staff would be able to publish a newspaper for the entire semester. However, student reporters should not expect to get paid, said Alisa Slaughter, assistant* professor of creative writing at UR.

"The paper was in need of repair," she said.

Although Slaughter perceives MacNee's reasons for the budget cut as well thought out, she did not entirely agree with the survey's content.

"Not a lot of students responded," she said. "The survey was poorly worded."

Jessica Morey-Collins an upcoming junior is considered by MacNee to be the unofficial editor in chief.

Morey-Collins had worked for The Bulldog in the past in an editorial position.

She said while she approved of the survey sent to students, she would have liked to see more of a reply.

The Bulldog's $29,000 budget cut inevitably will affect production and wages, but Morey-Collins hopes to begin publishing within the next three weeks even though some staff positions once paid, will have to go unpaid.

She hopes to start as a bi-weekly and then transition back into a weekly paper. The Bulldog has not been published since classes started Sept. 2.

CORRECTION, 9/18: An earlier version of this article said Slaughter was an "associate" professor at the University of Redlands. The SPLC regrets the error. Return to story

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