E-Mail from Melanie McClellan Regarding ‘West Georgian’ Funding

By June 1, 2009

———- Forwarded message ———-

From: Melanie McClellan

Date: Mon, Jun 1, 2009 at 10:48 AM

Subject: message to west georgian

To: uwgpaper@gmail.com, [REDACTED]

Cc: dvinson@westga.edu, pgagnon@westga.edu, lindap@westga.edu

 

Dear Ellis:

I have had time to investigate your complaint about the West Georgian’s FY 2010 funding from Student Activity Fees. After careful review, I am going to ask that the SAFBA Committee convene this summer and that the West Georgian present their request at that time for reconsideration.

I have concluded the following:

1. Their decision to not fund the faculty advisor was appropriate, given the SAFBA guidelines.  A new request from another organization to fund a staff member was also denied. The letter to all organizations and departments which received funding included the sentence, “You must also keep in mind that no professional staff salaries may be paid out of the SAFBA monies.” There was one other department which has also previously used funding for salaries, and which will no longer be able to use funds for that purpose. That chair of that department has already been to see me to talk about other potential funding sources for that, and I am helping him explore those options; I anticipate having similar conversations with Dr. Gagnon about her options as well. (Because Mass Communications is an academic department, that is ultimately an academic decision.)

2. Conflicts between the SGA and the West Georgian were not discussed in the committee meetings.  However, it does appear that for some members of the committee, their decision was “content-motivated,” in that they expressed concern over inaccurate reporting and the online blog content, and the negative impression those created for readers outside of the campus. Because they discussed the value of what other funding applicants add to the University, they believed it was also appropriate to discuss the value of what the West Georgian brings to the University. In the hearing we convene this summer, we will instruct them to not consider their personal opinions about content in making their recommendations.

3. A primary driving factor behind SAFBA’s funding recommendation was that the West Georgian requested a hearing with the committee, then did not show up for that hearing. Committee members had a number of questions they needed to ask, and were unable to do so.  Specifically, they had questions about the ad revenue.  The Budget Request Form indicated that the West Georgian was anticipating bringing in approximately $6,000 less in FY 09 than it had projected ($16,000 original ad revenue projection; $10,000 projection according to Question 5 on the Budget Request Form), but the West Georgian was still able to produce all newspapers for the year. Some members of the committee reasoned that, if you were able to complete your work for $6,000 less than you had budgeted for FY 09, you should be able to complete your work for FY 10 on a reduced budget.  That was a discussion they wanted to have in the hearing. (FYI, the West Georgian finished the year with $7,266 of their budget unspent.)

Based on my review, I have concluded that there is enough question about the process that a reconsideration is in order. The original FY 10 SAFBA Budget Request Form was submitted by Doug Vinson, so I will communicate with him about re-submitting for re-consideration this summer.  He may wish the committee to work from the original Request Form, or he may wish to submit a revised request.

As I mentioned in my previous e-mail, I had already planned to appoint a SAFBA Advisory Task Force this summer to review the current SAFBA policies and procedures and make recommendations for improvements for the future, and I have been gathering information for that Task Force for several months.  I will also share the concerns you raised in your original e-mail with them for consideration.

 

**********************************************************

Melanie McClellan, Ph.D.

Vice President for Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Dean of Students University of West Georgia

 

Carrollton, GA 30118-4430

Phone (678) 839-6423

Fax: (678) 839-4728

melmcc@westga.edu

Schools: University of West Georgia Cases: University of West Georgia: Student Newspaper’s Funding Cut on Basis of Content