History repeats, badly

History repeats, badly

Chris Lassiter

History repeats, badly

Here we go again.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result. The Missouri Southern Student Senate is a group of smart people, but they are not all Einsteins.

At Wednesday’s regular Senate meeting, senior Senator Carolyn White introduced a resolution calling for reallocation of student activity fee monies from Crossroads to the Campus Activities Board and the Senate. Every six to 10 years, this resolution pops up in the Senate. And, as Einstein could have told you, each time it meets the same fate. The administration vetoes the move. We believe the powers in Hearnes Hall will do the same this time.

President David Reed is trying his best to steer the Senate in the right direction, we just wish it would follow his lead.

The resolution is printed in it’s entirety on page three of this edition of The Chart. The contention, based on that document, is that the magazine is “alumni run” and “no longer has significant student input.” While the publications board of the magazine is comprised of faculty and staff, the magazine is designed almost entirely by two design students from the art department. Content is generated by students, alumni and faculty. It is designed as a practical laboratory experience for students interested in journalism, public relations, graphic design and business.

We want to ask White what research she did on this resolution other than the handout given to senators and the media at the meeting. From that information, 9 percent of the $25 fee paid by full-time students (part-time students provide no funds to Crossroads) goes to the magazine. That is $2.25 per full-time student. Hardly a huge amount.

Carolyn, can you tell senators the magazine’s circulation? How much does one edition cost? What is the position of the publications board, the administration and the magazine’s readership?

Why not ask a few members of the publications board to attend a Senate meeting and answer some questions?

Thankfully, freshman Senator Nathan Hicks had the sense to table the motion until some of these questions can be answered.

We also wonder why a senior senator would champion such a move, since one of the benefits of a Southern degree is a subscription to the magazine. That $2.25 times 10 (each semester of a five-year degree) is $22.50 for a lifetime subscription. That isn’t a bad deal.

Part of living in a free society is that we invest in things we don’t use. People without children pay school taxes. These are not costs, they are investments. Better schools produce better societies.

Southern seems to have a real complex about being a more “traditional” campus. This magazine is a step in that direction. Most schools have an alumni magazine and it was time we developed one of our own.

The big stink bomb in the room, though, isn’t the resolution itself.

It isn’t the motivation behind the resolution, either. From the letters to the editor on the following page, we understand the Senate isn’t quite the fan of student publications. We don’t think the resolution is an act of spite. Just a dumb one.

What smells about this measure is that the Senate is taking funds from one organization and putting that money into its own account. How big is that account? How are they using it? How big is the CAB budget? How are they using it?

We don’t know. But we’re going to find out.

[Editor’s note: The following editorial excerpt and the cartoon at right ran April 27, 1995, following the submission of a resolution very similar to the one currently on the Senatorial table. Change a few names, numbers and the Senate’s rationale for the move and it could run today.]

Just when our friends on Missouri Southern’s Student Senate seem to be on target, they shoot themselves in the foot.

Last week, the Senate began deliberation on a proposal to cut the budget of Crossroads: The Magazine by 40 percent. Currently, $5 of student’s $20 student activity fee goes to the magazine each semester. The good senators were proposing that the amount be pared to $3. Fortunately, College President Julio León vetoed the move.

Senate adviser Doug Carnahan, however, told the Senate not to give up. If they bring this misguided measure up next fall, where would the other $2 go? If freshman senator Jason Talley gets his way, it will go straight into the Senate’s bank account.

Behind the masks of student interest and democracy, the Senate is hiding the ugly faces of greed and censorship. Talley justifies slashing Crossroads thusly:

“They have a lot of money. They went under budget this year and last year. They can afford it.”

Nice try Jason, but your logic is a little convoluted. How would you equitably apply your soak-the-rich perspective? Would well-run and efficient groups get less funding from the Senate? If the Senate ends the year with a surplus, would students get a rebate? In Talley’s world, running in the black is a punishable offense.

Perhaps more disturbing is senior senator Jennifer Kuncl’s take on a two-page smoking illustration in the magazine’s last issue:

“This is trash. I personally do not want to see anything like this published on this campus again.”

While the spread in question may not have been high quality, it illustrated a campus reality. To use this as a justification for cutting the Crossroads’ budget, Kuncl sends the message that student publications should publish only what is positive and wholesome. By beating the magazine with the budget club, Kuncl suggests a form of blackmail with the result of imposing prior restraint. This doesn’t just reek of disrespect for the First Amendment, it stinks to high heaven. What would pass “The Kuncl Test”? Who would decide what is trash?

Putting this idea before the student body in an election looks good on its face, but is problematic at best. Each year, the Senate finds itself hard pressed to get enough candidates for executive office to justify a vote. Additionally, few of Southern’s 5000 students vote in such elections. This forum hardly reflects a true picture of student opinion.

Finally, the Crossroads has become a link between today’s students and Southern’s alumni. The yearbook and the magazine have provided a storehouse of memories for students moving on down life’s road. León was right to stop this embarrassing Senate power play before it got out of hand. Rather than gut the magazine with a vicious and devastating budget cut, we challenge Talley, Kuncl and the rest of the Senate to sign up for the Crossroads’ practicum. In addition to obtaining one hour of credit, they could improve the magazine instead of destroying it. And that is what leadership is all about.