Thursday, June 30, 2022

ASMSU to restart yearbook battle

April 18, 2001

A proposed ASMSU measure is once again sparking debate within the university’s undergraduate student government about editorial power of the Red Cedar Log yearbook.

Bryan Newland and Crystal Price are seeking ASMSU Student Assembly approval of a measure that would establish a yearbook editorial board and give first priority for space in the publication to minority student groups above other registered student organizations. The assembly is considering the bill Thursday.

“We were trying to find a way to ensure CORES and COPS groups are included in the yearbook, and this is the best way we could come up with,” said Price, a Black Student Alliance representative for the assembly.

The Council of Racial and Ethnic Students includes racial minority groups such as BSA and the North American Indian Student Organization. The Council of Progressive Students includes groups such as Women’s Council and the Council for Students with Disabilities.

The proposed editorial board includes a faculty member from the Department of Student Life serving as chairperson. A faculty member from the Office of Minority Student Affairs, the Student Assembly vice-chairperson for internal affairs, a Student Assembly representative, the Red Cedar Log editor-in-chief and the Red Cedar Log diversity managing editor would act as board members.

A report from the board - detailing the publication’s general content and format - would then be submitted for Student Assembly approval, which is required before the yearbook is distributed to students.

“It is a different way to get the same thing I wanted before, which is accountability,” said Newland, a NAISO representative. “It’s more objective than past bills.”

Newland said because the Red Cedar Log is a branch of ASMSU, they are accountable to the student government and students.

“It’s not a private publication and it’s not the Red Cedar Log’s yearbook,” Newland said.

ASMSU provides the salaries for paid staff members of the yearbook and in 1999 added $3 to the existing $10 ASMSU tax specifically for the Red Cedar Log’s budget. The Student Assembly also holds the authority to hire and fire paid staff members.

However, Red Cedar Log Editor-in-Chief Rianne Jones said the proposed measure still violates the First Amendment, and ASMSU entrusts the yearbook’s content to the editor-in-chief it hires and appoints.

“There can be an editorial board, but the editor needs to have final say in everything that goes in the book,” Jones said. “This isn’t a minority issue; this is unconstitutional.”

The Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va., and the MSU School of Journalism have both voiced their support for the yearbook.

Earlier this semester, various representatives from the assembly introduced measures which would have stripped editorial power from the publication’s staff.

A temporary compromise was attained in January when the assembly approved a bill establishing the diversity managing editor position. To add more diversity, Jones said a special section has been added to the 2001 edition of the Red Cedar Log, featuring the NAISO Pow-Wow of Love and the MSU Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations.

Because of the settlement, Jones said she didn’t anticipate Newland and Price’s bill.

“We implemented the diversity managing editor to make sure the book stays as diverse as possible,” she said. “I thought that was their main concern - to ensure the yearbook is diverse.”

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