Doane Administration has proposed to cut the budget for Doane Student Media (DSM), cutting a specific amount, $5,000, each year. There has been no mention of how many years those cuts will continue, thus the budget cuts will continue indefinitely.
DSM includes student-run media outlets such as the newspaper, the website and the magazine. How the diminished budget will be split up between these has not yet been clarified.
The DSM budget was cut significantly before the beginning of this semester, almost in half. Nathaniel Wilson, assistant professor of Practice in Communication said the budget comes from student fees and advertising.
“Last year, 2019-2020, Doane Student Media (The budget line item for The Owl) spent $45,690.16. That was $42,471.41 from student fees, $2,822.75 from advertising, and $396.00 from "Other Income." This year, $21,660.54 has been set aside from Student Fees,” Wilson said.
Currently, DSM pays students to work. The administration has proposed that staff go unpaid starting the fall semester of 2021.
The faculty advisor of DSM Eric Tucker said the budget cuts could potentially lead to an entire cut of student media within the following years.
“These cuts could end up having the same effect over time; I worry that if the cuts lead to a significant decrease in student participation, the Board could use that as justification for eliminating student media entirely,” Tucker said.
The previous faculty advisor David Swartzlander, who worked at Doane for 22 years, tweeted on the topic, saying “Doane University will no longer allow students working for student media to be paid. And it will cut Doane Student Media by $5,000 each year for who knows how long. I’m ashamed to say that I ever worked at that school [Doane].”
Swartzlander continued into a thread on the same tweet, saying “I am angry that the president and the Board of Trustees at Doane have turned a good school into the clusterfuck that it is today.”
The previous Managing Editor of the Doane Owl John Celesky commented on the news of possible cuts as well.
“There’s too much work there to not get paid. It’s pretty sad for the oldest collegiate newspaper,” Celesky said.
The Doane Owl is recognized as Nebraska’s oldest collegiate newspaper and has been one of Doane’s “claims to fame” in previous years. The paper has been nationally recognized, as well.
Last year’s Editor in Chief and 2020 graduate Caitlyn Nelson said although cuts may be needed, cutting student media isn’t the way to go.
“Underpaid, understaffed and still they work their butts off to put Nebraska’s longest-running collegiate newspaper out every week,” Nelson said. “Who’s going to provide accurate information to the Doane community on the cuts if you threaten the student media? Not the move, Doane.”
Swartzlander commented on President Jacque Carter’s salary as well, suggesting that there is enough money to refrain from cutting funding to DSM.
“Fifteen percent of the president’s salary would pay for Doane Student Media. Why keep Media Communication if you’re going to turn student media into a fucking club?” Swartzlander said in a tweet.
Religious Studies professor Dan Clanton replied to Swartzlander’s tweet, saying “Especially now, when we need independent media and student-led media outlets more than ever. I guess this kind of “experiential education” isn’t good enough.”
So far, the administration has only proposed these cuts with no official decisions having been made.
The university has declined to comment.
“This is not the legacy I had hoped to leave for Doane Student Media,” Swartzlander said.
The budget for Doane Student Media has been restored to an amount closer to what it has been in previous years. The budget cuts proposed by Doane administration have not been altered. Final decisions on the proposed cuts will be made when the Board of Trustees vote on Nov. 9.
See our story on the updated budget information here