Newspaper referendum seeks to fund future of independent media

The Highlander Newspaper has stood for 64 years as UC Riverside’s independent and student-run media outlet, serving as a source of information and engaging commentary and storytelling for students and the community. The Highlander News Referendum proposes a $1.00 increase to the current quarterly fee of $2.00 (to be collected fall, winter, spring and summer quarters — effective starting fall 2018). In accordance with campus policy, 25 percent of the new fee, or $0.25, would be returned to financial aid.

A $1.00 increase to the quarterly Highlander News fee will be established by a referendum vote of the student body, and be run through the Associated Students office. The Highlander Editorial Board will monitor the expenditures created by the additional revenues. In compliance with UC and UCR policies, this referendum must meet the following criteria during elections to be approved by the student body: At least 20 percent of the student body must vote on the issue, and a majority of the votes cast must vote in favor of the issue.

The ballot language states that, if passed, the Highlander News Referendum will help The Highlander continue to “provide practical experience for students interested in journalism, marketing, media production and design on a campus without a journalism program” and deliver “breaking news and commentary on the issues that affect the future of UCR’s campus.” The Highlander also hopes to expand their multimedia team and “resources to consistently hold campus administrators, faculty and student leaders accountable,” according to the ballot language.

Atenas Odriozola, a contributing writer at The Highlander and a first-year anthropology major, said that The Highlander Newspaper is beneficial in providing news to the student population. She believes that the referendum is important because the newspaper is an independent news outlet that provides news without a filter. Odriozola stated, “The Highlander gives me the chance to explore and learn about UCR. I have the opportunity to explore topics I would not have known ranging from the exoplanet discovered by a UCR faculty to drought resistance in the Amazon rainforest.” She stated that The Highlander has helped her because it has made her “grow not only as a writer, but as an individual.”

Another writer, Michael Beeli, stated that contributing to The Highlander brought him much needed breaks from monotonous breadth courses. “I’ve been able to explore fascinating topics of interest across a wide range of discipline and immerse myself in some of modern society’s most interesting and complicated topics.” Beeli continued, “The knowledge base I’ve gained from writing the articles is invaluable by itself, but most important is really that The Highlander allows me to refine my writing abilities while sharing my work and opinion with the campus community.”

Assistant Photo Editor Martin Lopez said that joining The Highlander was the “best decision of my college career thus far.” Lopez stated that he developed an artistic side “I never really knew I had” and saw the life of UCR’s diversity up close. “Hearing the stories of students from so many backgrounds and walks of life has made me appreciate UCR so much more. It’s hard to imagine my life without the newspaper.”

In order for the Highlander News Referendum to pass, 20 percent of undergraduates must vote in order for the results to count. A majority of the votes cast must vote in favor of the issue.  Voting will take place April 23-27. Hours and location of polling sites will be 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5 p.m.-7 p.m. near the Aberdeen-lnverness residence hall, Bear’s Den, Student Recreation Center and Rivera Library. Election results will be announced the first week of May at noon near The Bell Tower.

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