UC Davis students vote to save their newspaper

It looks like The California Aggie will live to see its 100th birthday, thanks to the thousands of students who voted during campus elections this week.

The Aggie put a fee referendum on the ballot asking students to pay an extra $3.88 in student fees per quarter—$3.10 to fund the student-run newspaper with a 78-cent surcharge that goes to student aid. With 26,000 undergraduates, The Aggie would pocket roughly $300,000 per year. To pass, it needed a 20 percent voter turnout, and at least two-thirds needed to vote “yes.”

As it turns out, young people maybe do care about the news. More than 27 percent of UC Davis undergraduates voted, and just shy of 73 percent voted in favor of the initiative. To those who have been away from college politics for a while, 27 percent may seem extremely apathetic. But it’s actually around 10 percent higher than usual, and more students voted on the fee referendum than on the student government candidates. (To those who care, the guy in the fuzzy blue squid hat won. Go figure.)

The beyond-packed room cheered when the results were announced, though the applause was nowhere near as crazy and screechy as when the president and vice president votes were displayed. The Aggie staff looked excited and relieved, but more than that, tired.

“I’m trying not to get my hopes up,” Editor in Chief Elizabeth Orpina said.

Woah, woah, woah. It passed! It’s over! Right?

Wrong. Read this post from yesterday covering the questions that have been swirling all week (and this post for my bias!), but essentially, the higher-ups still have final say on the matter. The Aggie staff can’t touch the bill now—it goes to Student Affairs and then to Chancellor Linda Katehi for a stamp of approval. Then it goes to the UC Office of the President.

Orpina acknowledged that some aspects of the initiative are likely to change—little language things, a fee adjustment to take a certain little-known, campus-wide procedure into account, and a change in oversight committees. These were issues brought up by Student Affairs officials during an emergency meeting last week.

But, assuming the measure moves through these channels with relatively little drama, The Aggie will then be tasked with following through on its plans—hiring full-time business staff, printing twice a week and expanding its new media program. And, of course, paying themselves more than $2 per hour.

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