October 24, 2011

Letter to the Editor: The wrong vote on Slope Media

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To the Editor:

Re: “Students Question Slope Media Funding,” News, Oct. 21

If you had $17,000 dollars to give to a campus organization, what would you do? Perhaps you would help CUEMS purchase and maintain equipment in case you needed emergency medical care. Or maybe you could bring Lady Gaga for Slope Day. Or improve mental health programs by supporting Cornell Minds Matter. Only 29 campus organizations currently receive byline funding, meaning that they are funded directly from the Student Activity Fee of every undergraduate. As such, these organizations are expected to “directly and primarily serve/benefit the entire undergraduate Cornell community.”

The Student Assembly Appropriations Committee has voted to grant $1.25 from every undergraduate student to Slope Media Group, the same amount of funding granted to EARS peer support service. A report on Slope Media’s eligibility stated that the “educational aspect of the organization was particularly appealing, as the University has no hands-on undergraduate journalism & media program … The committee felt that Slope Media addresses an unmet demand for media experience and programming on campus.”

The Appropriations Committee is clearly uninformed about student organizations. Not only is there an opportunity for students to obtain media and programming experience, but they can do so while running a real business. WVBR 93.5 FM has been run entirely by students for 76 years. The music played over the airwaves may have changed, but the focus on educating students in media and running a viable business has remained consistent. Students are responsible for running a legitimate 24 hours/day, 365 days/year radio studio and transmitters, managing an annual budget of $250,000, maintaining 501(c)(3) status and FCC compliance, and sustaining a presence in both the Ithaca and Cornell communities. That seems pretty hands-on to me.

Liana Passantino ’11, former WVBR staff member