Wake awaits fees decision

Last year, The Wake was given a reprieve, restoring the magazine’s funding.

by Bryce Haugen

After the Student Services Fees Committee denied The Wake student magazine’s funding request last spring, leaders of the year-old student group were distraught.

“You people will be destroying The Wake,” said then-co-publisher James DeLong at a public hearing in March. “We will not exist next year.”

But Jerry Rinehart, University associate vice provost for student affairs, issued a last-minute reprieve, restoring the magazine’s funding to $60,000 – its previous level.

The Wake returned to the fees subcommittees, presenting its 2005-06 fees request Feb. 4.

The subcommittees finished their deliberations this week and will release their initial decisions Tuesday. The magazine’s leaders said they hope to receive funds without administrative help this time around.

“I think a lot of what happened last year had less to do with us than it did with the fees committee and their own internal agenda,” said Frederic Hanson, The Wake’s managing editor.

The magazine asked for $120,000 in fees for 2005-06. The $60,000 increase would cover the costs of publishing weekly, among other expenses, Hanson said.

Last year’s final fees committee report called The Wake’s performance “too poor to justify another year of funding.” The report said the magazine broke a promise to distribute weekly issues, instead publishing “sporadically and infrequently.” It also chastised the group for being unable to accurately estimate readership.

The committee rejected The Wake’s fees request in a 6-5 vote.

Hanson said the bimonthly magazine has improved in the last year, in both content and publicity.

“We’ve made a conscious effort to get our name out there,” he said. “We’ve had a noticeable increase in readership because of that.”

Approximately 14,000 people read each issue of The Wake, according to magazine estimates.

Hanson said The Wake will maintain its current operations if the fees committee refuses to award its requested increase. But if the committee grants no funding, the magazine would need to shut down, he said.

“That would be a huge waste,” he said. “We need more than two years. Any magazine needs time to get its feet off the ground.”

If denied fees, the group would again appeal to Rinehart, Hanson said.

Rinehart, who oversees the fees process, said he intervened last year because The Wake’s survival depended on it. A shutdown would waste previous fees money that had been spent on facilities and supplies, he said.

“It’s a judgment call,” he said. “In the case of The Wake Ö they needed one more chance.”

Last year, Rinehart also overturned a cut to the Department of Recreational Sports. The two reversals marked the first administrative intervention since 2002, when cuts to the Black Student Union and Twin Cities Student Unions were overturned.

Reversing decisions is a dangerous practice, Rinehart said.

“It should be very rare, because the decisions really need to rest within fees committees,” he said.

Fees committee Chairman Steve Wang said the committee makes its decisions based on 14 criteria that include considering the depth, quality and quantity of programs a student group provides.

“It’s a responsible and viewpoint-neutral way of awarding fees,” he said.

Wang said the committee does not consider previous access to funding, because that would put new groups at a disadvantage.

“The focus is on the present and the future, instead of the past,” he said.

The fees committee will release its final decisions after public hearings March 1 and 2. Rinehart will hold a third hearing later in the month and review the committee’s decisions before sending them to the Board of Regents for final approval.