Thanks to UC Davis student voters, The California Aggie may yet reach its 100th birthday despite recent budget shortfalls due to decreased ad revenues.
Roughly 73 percent of UCD student voters approved a referendum in favor of keeping The California Aggie alive, and their approval will now be seen by university administrators in the coming week.
The $3.88-per-quarter student fee — $3.10 for The Aggie and $0.78 for Return to Aid — would raise $272,800 annually and will next be reviewed by the chancellor’s office with recommendations from Student Affairs. A final say would come from University of California President Janet Napolitano.
Twenty-seven percent of the student body went to the polls, meeting the measure’s required 20 percent participation in order to be valid. At 73 percent approval, the measure also met the requirement of 60 percent plus 1 for passage.
“At UCD, here we truly respect and value student governance and the ballot process, and the students’ voice has been heard and now we just need to let the process work its way through,” said Milton Lang, associate vice chancellor for student affairs.
A decision from Chancellor Linda Katehi could come as soon as next week, officials said.
The Aggie brought in $469,154 in ad revenue as recently as 2008 when it published 12,000 copies daily, but this plummeted to $236,169 in 2009-10, according to ASUCD’s budget website.
Entering 2012-13, the paper’s reserve, which once was greater than $500,000, fell to $17,821.
For Aggie city news editor Paayal Zaveri, the vote brought a sigh of relief.
“I spent four years at this paper and it’s really nice to see it keep going — it’s going to provide a lot of opportunities for future students,” said Zaveri, 21, a fourth-year history major. “I’ve learned so much more at The Aggie than I have at all my classes at (UC) Davis and I’m really glad other students are going to have the opportunity to do that.”
If the measure had failed, Zaveri said, “I would be pretty upset because we would lose the only student-run journalism opportunity on the Davis campus.”
The Aggie has been described as a “living laboratory” for reporting, photography, editing, design and new media on a campus that lacks a journalism major. It has a staff of more than 80 people, but fewer than 20 are paid.
Despite the passing of the referendum, there is a chance it will not be approved by administrators because last-minute requested modifications to the language of the fee initiative could not be made in time for the vote, officials said.
Among the requested changes was transferring future oversight of fee revenue from the campus media board to the student fee advisory board, a modification that already has been redrafted and could be subject to another student vote should these election results not be approved by administrators.
These issues are being watched closely by Aggie staff.
“This isn’t a guaranteed thing but this is a really good sign,” said editor-in-chief Elizabeth Orpina, referring to the student-voter approval. “We’re open to changing the language to appease any of the ‘no’ voters. Because of the issues with campus policies and ASUCD bylaws, we weren’t able to make those changes in time, and the next step is making sure those happen.”
— Reach Jason McAlister at firstname.lastname@example.org