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Grinnell will not cut student org budget, publications still at risk, statement says

Grinnell College will not reduce overall funds available to student organizations, which includes student publications, for the 2024-25 academic year, according to a statement released by the College on Tuesday, April 23. 

The statement did not clarify if student publications will be able to draw sufficient funds from the overall student organization budget to fund print publications next year, even if the overall budget will remain the same.

The statement comes a day after student leaders at seven campus publications signed an editorial calling for transparency in the budget-creating process after Ashley Adams, associate director of student involvement and the students’ employment supervisor, allegedly informed them that Grinnell College would reduce their print budget. 

Four alumni also submitted letters to the editor or op-eds calling the College to save the printing of campus publications.

“Because the requests for student organization funds far exceed available resources, reducing the frequency of print publications has been one of many suggestions for reducing costs. Staff approached these conversations with good intentions, but were not supported by clear policies and procedures, and we are committed to addressing that gap,” the statement said.

The Grinnell College Student Publications and Radio Committee (SPARC) oversees all student publications, including The Scarlet & Black (The S&B), Grinnell Underground Magazine (GUM), GOGUE, The B&S, The Grinnell Review, Grinnell College Press and The Sequence. 

The statement said that student organization funding is drawn from the student activity fee. 

“Funding will continue to come from the student activity fee. Historically, it has been allocated by student-run entities based on student organization budget requests. This will continue to be the case going forward,” the statement said. 

Anne Harris, president of Grinnell College, said in an interview with The S&B that students from Student Government Administration (SGA), Grinnell Concerts and SPARC will be involved in deliberating how the budget is allocated. 

“Budgeting is a process of negotiations,” she said, referring to allocation of student organization funds for next year. 

Harris said the budget for student organizations is operated by the Division of Student Affairs (DSA), currently led by JC Lopez, vice president of Student Affairs. 

Harris said she does not oversee operational budgets. Though Harris has authority to intervene in operational budget decisions, she said she does not want to interfere in the student organization budget, because she wants students to co-create the budget with Lopez. 

“Philosophically, that’s not the president I want to be,” she said about intervening into operational budgets. 

Harris said the collaborative process between DSA and students in designing the student organization budget is “the clearest instance of self-governance she sees” in the budget creation process.

According to the statement, “Vice President JC Lopez is meeting with student leaders to co-create a structure that will affirm student leaders’ agency in allocating the student activity fees to organizations requesting funds through SPARC, SGA, and Concerts.”

SPARC media heads will meet Lopez on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the budget, according to S&B editor-in-chief Eleanor Corbin `24.

“JC Lopez isn’t there to make the decisions, but is there to co-create a process that seeks to be clear as to how the decisions are made,” Harris said. 

The statement continued: “The College acknowledges that discussions with student media leadership created confusion and anxiety.” 

Harris said she thinks administrators involved in the process were working with good intentions. 

When asked if Harris was referring to Ashley Adams, associate director of student involvement, Harris said she did not know which administrators were responsible for communicating the exact SPARC budget information to students, and that she always assumes people have positive intentions. 

Adams had reportedly told multiple SPARC student employees that the print publication will be reduced throughout March and April. 

As of Tuesday evening, Adams has not responded to multiple requests for comment regarding her communications with SPARC media heads. 

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Nina Baker
Nina Baker, Staff Writer
Nina Baker is a fourth-year Russian major with a Russian, Central European and Eurasian Studies concentration from Lakeville, Minnesota. When she's not reporting for The Scarlet & Black, she loves taking long walks, reading, and learning foreign languages.
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    Lily PApr 29, 2024 at 11:29 am

    Ashley Adams probably hasn’t responded to multiple requests for comment because she’s at her grandma’s funeral.