SGA’s Attack on the Arts

Recent proposals by Student Government Association (SGA) to slash Media Council’s budget are short-sighted and regrettable. Emory’s arts programs are at risk. Since Emory eliminated the Department of Visual Arts in 2012, Media Council is one of the last remaining well-funded bastions for student-run artistic and literary expression on campus. Its clubs are diverse in purpose and form, and while extreme cuts to specific funding areas (such as print publications) may not heavily impact some clubs, they may mean the end of others. While SGA officials are understandably looking for ways to get themselves out of an overspending mess, asking Media Council to compensate for the entire amount in addition to another $17,000 based on unfounded claims of lax spending, as was suggested at a Jan. 18 meeting led by Freshman Representative Mo Singhal (22C), is unthinkable. Cutting such an egregious amount of funding from the only divisional council under SGA dedicated to the arts shows SGA is out of touch with student interests.

Concerns of a desolate future where Student Programming Council (SPC) would have to cut programming seem to underpin this decision. Personally, I would not be too upset by the absence of a few Wonderful Wednesday bouncy houses next year. In the initial proposal to cut the budgets of print publications like The Survivor Anthology by 90 percent, Singhal explained that SGA had a vision for Media Council publications: to become online resources. Even on a relatively small university campus, what right does any government have to dictate how students showcase their work? I’d love to know what these out-of-touch bureaucrats think they know about arts marketing. Many of the organizations under Media Council, including WMRE and The Lullwater Review, already publish online and use their print publication to feature student work that lends itself best to print.

SGA needs to rethink how it views student-generated media, if not for their own sake, for the sake of Emory’s reputation as a liberal arts institution. Reducing funding to student media groups will negatively impact students’ ability to explore their interests in fields outside the classroom. Emory continues to receive recognition for its outstanding programs and research in the sciences but more must be done by SGA and by the University administration to ensure student-generated media gets what it deserves — a fighting chance.

The Emory community cannot allow SGA to decide how and where student media should be presented. In a year characterized by a lack of transparency in student government, this attack on free expression must not go unchallenged.

Shannon Anderson (20C) is the treasurer of WMRE.