The Portland Spectator received over $41,000 in student fee money this year so they could publish monthly. However, eight months into the school year, the conservative student publication has produced only two magazines, without one hitting the stands since December. Inconsistent publishing on The Spectator’s part–during this, and previous years–has caused many students to question whether the publication is using its student fees correctly.
The Portland Spectator received over $41,000 in student fee money this year so they could publish monthly. However, eight months into the school year, the conservative student publication has produced only two magazines, without one hitting the stands since December.
Inconsistent publishing on The Spectator‘s part–during this, and previous years–has caused many students to question whether the publication is using its student fees correctly.
Citing an inability to assemble a staff and family health issues as the primary reasons, The Spectator, PSU’s conservative student-run magazine, has not published each month. Editor-in-Chief Tessie Lopez believes student fees are being used adequately.
“The student fees aren’t wasted,” Lopez said. “What we could have done is continued to produce the magazine at the quality level of the October issue, where we just had two writers and reprints [of previously published stories]. That, I would consider, is much more of a waste of student fee money.”
Student Fee Committee Chair Amanda Newberg, who used to write for and help edit parts of the magazine two years ago, disagrees with Lopez’s claim that The Spectator is not wasting student fees. She said she feels the publication has a responsibility to uphold its mission by publishing a magazine on a consistent basis.
The SFC allocated nearly $12 million in student fees this year to groups like The Spectator and the Vanguard.
“It’s a big concern and problem that The Spectator isn’t printing,” Newberg said. “They have a large budget, and they specifically have a budget to pay people to write, manage and organize a student publication.”
Over the next few months, Lopez plans to print as many as six issues of The Spectator to compensate for past issues that were not published. This includes a February/March dated issue that is slated to be distributed on campus as soon as today.
With the issues Lopez intends to print, The Spectator would reach a total of eight magazines printed this year, just one less than it is funded to publish.
Students express concerns
Despite the number of magazines The Spectator staff plans to produce in the coming months, there are still questions about whether they are spending student fees in the best interest of the student body.
“To suddenly saturate the market seems kind of silly because their publication isn’t produced frequently,” said Rebekah Hunt, editor-in-chief of The Rearguard. “It doesn’t make up for not publishing for so long.”
As editor of The Rearguard, Portland State’s progressive monthly newspaper, Hunt said she encourages The Spectator to publish regularly.
“It’s extremely important to have a conservative publication on campus,” Hunt said. “We need another voice to engage in a dialog. And without the conservative voice, everyone around campus would just agree.”
Judson Randall, adviser for PSU student publications, including the Vanguard, also calls an array of voices on campus vital. He said throughout the year, he has attempted to contact The Spectator staff to ask for updates on the magazine’s progress. Their response was intermittent, he said.
This year in student fees, The Spectator received $41,131, The Rearguard, which publishes monthly, received $36,982, and the Vanguard, which publishes four times a week, received $203,544.
Christian Aniciete, president of the student group KAIBIGAN, said he feels very strongly about student groups being held accountable for their actions. He thinks that if a student group is receiving funds, it should use the money appropriately and that The Spectator is not.
“Those fees should be used for what they’re supposed to be used for. It’s pretty straightforward,” Aniciete said. He believes most student group leaders would share his views.
History of problems
The Spectator has experienced similar troubles in its six-year history. It was without an editor-in-chief for a period of time in 2004 and has not consistently printed for several years.
Last year The Spectator‘s printing budget was decreased by half because of irregular printing, but its overall budget was drastically increased because of the addition of $20,385 in stipend money to be paid to its staff.
Throughout the inactive months this year, Lopez, who is paid $750 a month, said she and managing editor Michael McDaniel were being paid, but were still writing stories and creating content. But, she said, their work was not enough to publish a magazine. In order to publish, Lopez said, she needed to assemble a larger staff, which took about three months.
Lopez and McDaniel have retained their editorial positions, and the remainder of the staff has begun to fill out. New staff members include a senior editor, Sarah Christensen, several writers and a copy editor, Lopez said.
“We hope for more progression and efficiency,” Lopez said. “And with a formulated staff, we can continue with how a publication should be run.”
Assembling a staff was one of the holdups for Lopez, and the health of her grandmother was another. Since December, Lopez has devoted much of her time to taking care of her ailing grandmother, which has prolonged the process of hiring writers.
“The editor was distracted by events in her life and wasn’t able to focus as much attention on it as she should have,” Randall said. “It’s frustrating for me because I want to ensure the student voice is expressed.”