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Student funding fight intensifies

Questions raised about measure’s impact on magazines

ASUNM President Jennifer Liu signed a constitutional amendment that cancels New Mexico Daily Lobo funding and cuts what many thought was a proposed increase in funding for Conceptions Southwest and Best Student Essays.

Members of the Daily Lobo staff and Student Publications realized Tuesday night that the amendment will decrease funding for Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest, though it appears to give the both of the student publications a 1 percent increase. Instead of receiving 2 percent each, the groups will have to split 3 percent — getting only 1.5 percent each.

All undergraduate students can vote on the proposed amendment on April 11 during the ASUNM elections. The amendment must pass by a two-thirds majority during the student election. It also must be approved by the Executive Cabinet and the Board of Regents.

Liu was not notified about how the two publications would be impacted by the amendment and could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

The ASUNM Constitution states that the Student Publications Board — which funds the Daily Lobo, Conceptions Southwest and Best Student Essays — receives 12 percent of all undergraduate student fees. The Constitution states that 2 percent of the allocation must go to Conceptions Southwest and Best Student Essays, but does not limit the two groups to that amount.

Iliana Lim¢n, Daily Lobo managing editor, said that about five years ago, the Student Publications Board decided to allocate 4 percent of student fees that the board receives to Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest.

Though the proposed amendment raises the 2 percent that goes to Conception Southwest and Best Student Essays to 3 percent, it cuts the other 10 percent that went to the Student Publications Board. The Daily Lobo will lose about $38,000 — or 5 percent of its budget, if students approve the cut. The Senate has said that 9 percent of student fees will then go to student organizations and work study positions.

ASUNM Finance Chairman Grant Nichols, who proposed the bill, said he was unaware that the amendment would cause a decrease in funding for the two publications.

“My initial impression was that they were receiving 2 percent and that 2 percent was divided between Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest,” he said.

Nichols said, had he known differently, he would have asked the Senate to amend the bill so 4 percent of student fees would go to Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest, though he is comfortable with the change to 3 percent.

Nichols said he got his information from Sen. Steve Aguilarr, who has been the ASUNM representative on the Student Publications Board since September.

Aguilar said that percentages do not matter because Best Student Essays and Conceptions Southwest both receive $5,800 from the money that ASUNM allocates through its Constitution to the Student Publications Board. He said even if the funding for the two groups drops from 2 percent to 1.5 percent of student fees, the dollar amount will only decrease by about $4 per group. Since student enrollment is up, Aguilar said, the amount of money that comes from student fees is also up.

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Aguilar said that James Barron, Daily Lobo editor in chief, told him during the last Student Publications Board meeting that the two publications split the 2 percent. He said Lim¢n also told the Senate that the 2 percent was divided between Conceptions Southwest and Best Student Essays when she presented facts at a recent full Senate meeting.

“We were deceived,” Aguilar said.

Barron said he never told Aguilar that the groups split the 2 percent and that all of the discussions that he has had with Aguilar have been about ASUNM advertising prices — specifically for the executive branch. He said Aguilar asked for the budget a few days before the last Senate meeting, but never asked about specific numbers or percentages.

“He has been given more than enough information at all of the publications board meetings and hasn’t missed one meeting,” Barron said.

Lim¢n said she did not tell the Senate that the groups split the 2 percent.

“I have reviewed the speech I read during the last ASUNM meeting and found no references to Sen. Aguilar’s comments,” she said. “Prior to Tuesday evening, I never discussed the role of the magazines in this amendment. My conversation with the Senate was limited to explaining the significant negative impact the proposed amendment would have on the Daily Lobo.”

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