The media fee St. Thomas students pay each year is rising from $23 to $25 next academic year.
The Aquinian’s Board of Directors voted to ask for an increase in the media fee for full-time students.
With the motion passing unanimously at the Jan. 21 meeting, the Aquinian went to St. Thomas financial services comptroller Reg Gallant who said because the amount was so small, it did not need to be presented to the finance committee.
Aquinian editor-in-chief Ian Leblanc said rising production costs as well as diminished advertising and student fee revenues have hurt the paper’s balance sheet in recent years.
“We needed to find a way to pay for the paper we provide to students every week,” said Leblanc, who also chairs the Aquinian Board of Directors.
In line with the Aquinian’s constitution, a media fee increase can be no more than $2 each school year and needs a unanimous “yes” vote from the Board of Directors to start the process.
The media fee was last raised in 2008 by $2. The fee is split between the paper and CHSR, the campus and community radio station where UNB and St. Thomas students volunteer. CHSR gets $8 from the media fee.
After the 2012-13 school year, the Aquinian was left with a $7,235.66 debt, and due to the drop in university enrolment and the shrinking of the advertising market, expects to run a deficit again this year.
The St. Thomas campus paper has cut two positions from the 2012-13 staff, production editor and web editor, in an effort to cut costs, but it has not been enough to avoid a deficit.
Leblanc said the fee increase will not be used to raise honorariums for editors or send editors to conferences. All revenues will go to paying off the paper’s debt, which will take several years.
“In the long run we hope to raise the staff members and become a better paper for the student population,” said Leblanc. “We have a lot of great ideas that we would love to do, like more colour and more in-depth journalism, but that stuff takes time we don’t have because we’re stretched so thin.”
The Aquinian Board of Directors includes: the editor-in-chief and managing editor of The Aquinian, as well as elected representatives from each year; a member at large; and a non-voting faculty advisor.