A Call for Fair Funding

It’s been a whirlwind of a week here at TSL.

Our newspaper recently faced budget cuts and mid-semester financial problems that threatened the execution and distribution of the remaining print issues for the semester. We received news that the Associated Students of Pomona College (ASPC) would no longer fund us to print due to outstanding debts and, in the following days, we scrambled for emergency funding, brainstorming ways to keep our beloved paper alive.

Thanks to the graciousness of Pomona College President David Oxtoby—prompted by an impassioned letter sent directly to his office by our photo editor, Tim Hernandez, funding for our print issue is now guaranteed for the rest of the semester.

But Oxtoby’s donation is only a short-term solution. It is high-time that our financial future stop depending solely on Pomona College.

In 2010, TSL decided that it would expand its coverage to the other colleges in the consortium. Our coverage has since expanded dramatically. For example, a fifth (21 percent) of our coverage has been devoted to Claremont McKenna College and CMS sports teams this semester. Coverage of Scripps College and Pitzer College fall along similar lines. Admittedly, Harvey Mudd College has historically been a blind-spot for TSL. We are doing our best to remedy this unfortunate reality, though.

In Claremont, we face a unique difficulty when it comes to funding. Our students belong to five separate institutions, but we share resources, certain organizations, and classes. Though TSL’s staff is still mostly from Pomona, a significant number of individuals working for us are from other schools, particularly in leadership positions: three of our last four editors-in-chief have been non-Pomona students.

Our readership, student engagement, and growing staff diversity demonstrate that our content promotes dialogue across the 5Cs. We are no longer only for Pomona; we have become a resource and platform for all 5C students.

At last year’s budgetary hearings, a handful of 5C TSL senior staff representatives appealed to their respective schools for more equitable funding. The hope was that the other schools would help to fund the paper in the 2015-2016 school year and that ASPC would no longer have to shoulder the cost of a paper that has made a conscious effort to expand its reach.

The other schools disappointed. Their reluctance to recognize and support TSL as a 5C organization is disheartening and no doubt partially responsible for the situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of our production cycle this week.

We employ some 100 students, each of whom work hard to bring this community a paper full of high-quality content. However, we had to stop paying most our staff members this year due to a decrease in our labor budget, which is provided by Pomona College. This is unacceptable considering how much work is put into the successful production of our paper each week. In addition, our production budget from ASPC also decreased last year, based on the assumption that the other colleges would step up their funding. 

With this year’s impending budget hearings, we urge the other schools to reconsider their reluctance to adequately fund us, both to help combat the cuts to our labor budget and to ensure that we can maintain the quality of our publication.

For 127 years, our publication has maintained a physical presence on these campuses, a quality that sets us apart from publications that have since transitioned to online-only. While we take responsibility for being negligent of our financial troubles, we must continue publishing our newspaper in print. Forcing us to stop printing issues puts our longstanding identity at risk. Though TSL has a long history at Pomona, we are confident that our future will be shared by all five of these institutions. We are 5C—our funding should reflect that.

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