Monday, January 25, 2021

Hands off

ASMSU should not take over Red Cedar Log

ASMSU should not take editorial control of MSU’s yearbook - no matter how good its intentions are.

On Tuesday, ASMSU’s policy committee rejected a bill that would give the yearbook advisory committee and the ASMSU Student Assembly editorial control over the Red Cedar Log. But supporters of the measure introduced a similar bill Thursday for a vote before the entire assembly.

Currently, final approval of the Red Cedar Log is held only by the editor in chief. The advisory committee, made up of five student government members and two Red Cedar Log representatives, can only make recommendations, which the yearbook is not required to follow.

Sponsors of the bill hope to increase coverage of minority groups in the yearbook by eliminating the advisory committee and giving the Student Assembly control of the content of the nation’s largest yearbook. Because registered student organization space in the yearbook is on a first-come, first-serve basis, supporters of the measure argue that minority groups have not always had the chance to be included.

While ASMSU’s effort for more representative coverage of minorities at MSU is a good idea in theory, assuming control over the student publication is the wrong way to achieve it. MSU’s undergraduate student government should take a cue from the Board of Trustees, which voted to incorporate The State News in 1971, giving complete editorial control to the publication.

Supporters of the bill feel ASMSU has a right to editorial control of the yearbook because it supplies the majority of the Red Cedar Log’s funding. ASMSU pays for the staff member salaries, provides office space and, in 1999, added $3 to the existing $10 ASMSU semesterly tax specifically for the yearbook’s budget.

ASMSU should be commended for salvaging the Red Cedar Log and returning it to regular publication in 1997 after a two-year hiatus. But like The State News, the Red Cedar Log is a public forum for student expression and should not be interfered with by any government entity - including ASMSU. Instead, alternatives should be sought to improve coverage and relations with minority groups.

To ensure equal coverage of minority groups, the Red Cedar Log reserved 60 pages for registered student organizations in this year’s book and sent out e-mails to about 410 groups at the end of the summer and again at the beginning of the fall semester.

MSU’s minority students should be well-represented within the yearbook pages, but minority organizations must also meet submission deadlines.

Editorial control of the yearbook should not be brought into question because of an organization’s failure to meet deadlines. Likewise, the Red Cedar Log should make every effort to include those groups that turn in entries on time.

Yearbook staff must keep control of its publication. The Red Cedar Log should not become a public relations tool for ASMSU.


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