To wax poetic on the absurdity of stipend review is preaching to the choir. Everyone who has experienced it knows its flaws and those who have read this newspaper know the various failures of the review process.
However, even with the repeated stories and pieces we have published in this newspaper, stipend review continues to be the vexing gift that keeps on giving. The Good 5 Cent Cigar recently discovered it would only receive stipends to support six staffers next semester, rather than our usual 10.
During my four years here, the Cigar has made a full recovery. My freshman year I was overworked for a paper that nobody read, without a website that was updated or capable of functioning properly. Things improved sophomore year (when we officially became a weekly), but the overhaul was completed in the 2014-15 academic year. We revamped the website, had dedicated reporters working in all sections and reliable photographers committed to their craft.
The newspaper thrived when all of its positions were filled. “Thrived” being the key word. We only had five staffers in the fall semester of 2015, and we survived. We were able to fill many more in the spring, and as a result our content has improved. This is the difference between thriving and surviving.
The Student Senate has a difficult job keeping all of its clubs and money in order. It’s an unenviable position to have, and there are cuts to be made in some places if they are justifiable. The cuts to the Cigar do not fit in this category, but it was to be expected when those making the decisions are unaware of the inner-workings of the organization.
Just as a refresher course, I’ll use the position I held last semester, managing editor, as an example. The stipend review process went like this: I had to establish a time and day to meet with five members of the Senate, including SOARC Chairwoman Sam King. I went on a day in March to meet with people who had never done more than maybe read the Cigar. I brought notes and examples to show the importance of what I do and over whom I have control.
The managing editor is second-in-command at the Cigar, writing at least one story a week in addition to check-ins with all section editors and the handling of most disciplinary matters. I explained day-by-day what I do every week. I was approved by a 4-1 vote.
Someone voted against the managing editor position. This would equate to saying Senate would survive without its vice president position.
I covered Senate my freshman year, and that cabinet would never have implemented something as perplexing as the stipend review. How can cuts be made to a group about which senators know very little?
The beauty of it, though, is that Senate does not have to provide an explanation. This editorial, like those that came before it, might fall on deaf ears. Senate can get angry about what I write, or simply ignore it, but I’ve put too much work into this paper over the past four years to see it hurt by people who don’t know how it operates.
I had never seen any of the five people who interrogated me at a Cigar meeting before. None of them had come by on a Wednesday night my junior year when we were there until 2 a.m. putting together the newspaper. None of them were shadowing editors or reporters to get a glimpse of what they do.
The Cigar will survive with just six reporters, but it cannot thrive. It is irritating, though, that the four years I have spent contributing to the rebuild of this newspaper have done nothing to break through to our “bosses” upstairs.