WMU students vote on student media tuition raise
Updated: Friday, March 29 2013, 08:08 PM EDT
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The polls closed at 5 p.m. in an election that asks Western Michigan University students to voluntarily raise tuition.
They were faced with two proposals, a $5 per semester fee to fund student media and an $8 per semester charge to shuttle aviation students to classes in Battle Creek.
Student leaders at student media organizations WIDR-FM and the Western Herald newspaper tell me without that $5 fee, students could lose hands-on opportunities, and more importantly, their voice.
"This is kind of frightening for us," said Monica Rodriguez, general manager at WIDR-FM. "Our nightmare that WIDR is not going to be here, but we are positive that students are going to support us."
If they do, WIDR, the Herald, and the Young Broadcasters of Tomorrow would merge under one umbrella organization with shared staff and resources.
Herald News Editor Ambrosia Neldon says without the fee to offset budget cuts, the monthly paper would stop printing, and its online efforts would suffer.
"This is really the only student voice on campus. It's a forum for students' opinions," she said. "We find all the dirt really about the university."
Jonathan Jackson, community involvement chair at the Western Student Association, values the organizations as communication tools.
"Keeping people in the know about what events are going such as Polar Plunge, such as Relay for Life coming up in two weeks," he said.
"There's really no other way to get information about what's happening on campus," one student we talked with said.
But others tell us social media and email keep them plenty informed.
"I don't support paying $5 extra of my tuition," another student said.
The second proposal asks $8 a semester to fund shuttles to the College of Aviation campus in Battle Creek. Aviation students currently pay $105 a semester for shuttles, and we're told they still miss classes because there's no room.
"People from out of state, out of country, are coming here to attend the College of Aviation, so they don't have a 'Plan B' if they get are getting left behind by the buses, which happens just about every day," said Jackson.
Some supporters of the Save Student Media campaign worry with students being asked to tack on two separate fees to their tuition, they'll choose only one.
We won't know how students voted until results are announced at the WSA meeting, next Wednesday at 4:15 p.m.