MSU, student leaders at odds over station funds
In the midst of the Impact 89FM financial review by student governance groups, information has emerged suggesting issues with the radio station might stem from university officials ignoring procedure.
In memos obtained by The State News, members of both the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, and MSU’s undergraduate student government, ASMSU, confronted administrators for allegedly not following rules regarding student fee collection.
Impact 89FM has not received any of the collected $3 taxes on each student because of concern among members of student governance groups about their financial records and the MSU Radio Board not meeting for multiple years.
However, the station has a large reserve of money to keep it running.
University regulations outlined in the university’s student life handbook require that any student tax, such as the $3 Impact 89FM tax, must be voted on and approved by a majority of students. But ASMSU and COGS must renew it in a majority vote before that happens.
In a letter dated Oct. 11, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Services Denise Maybank told former station General Manager Gary Reid that a renewal never took place before administrators put the tax on the ballot.
“The Student Fee Collection Criteria and Procedures mandate that ASMSU and COGS, as the original ‘sponsors’ of this fee, authorize the renewal of the fee prior to its placement on the ballot. This did not happen,” Maybank wrote.
Maybank has not responded to continued interview requests and canceled a planned meeting before Thanksgiving break.
Reid said this process has not been followed since the radio station’s founding in 1988.
“That’s kind of after the fact,” Reid said of student governance frustrations with misapplication of the regulations. “If you want to change that policy … you change it going forward … not retroactively.”
As general manager from the station’s first airing in 1988 to summer 2012, Reid primarily was responsible for the station’s finances before he entered his current position of MSU’s director of broadcasting.
In an annual financial report of Impact 89FM’s finances in 2011 that was provided at the Nov. 14 COGS meeting, the station was shown to have net assets of $727,346 at the beginning of the year and $764,312 at the end of the year, with total expenses for running the station that year amounting to $253,065.
In the report, the total amount of student taxes collected in 2011 was shown to be $327,909.
Reid said because of FCC regulations, the radio station cannot stop production and there has to be a large amount of money available for equipment they must purchase every few years.
Funding also must be available in case of an emergency situation where equipment and transmitters must be replaced.
“It’s highly disconcerting to see the (Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Services) neglect to follow its own rules and regulations … and operate with selective enforcement when it sees fit,” ASMSU President Evan Martinak said in a statement. “The rules and regulations are there to protect student interests; once we bend them to accommodate the (Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs and Services), we threaten all student rights and responsibilities.”