On Sunday, Sept. 27, Senate decided in a closed vote that the Quest’s funding will be moved to Funding Poll during the spring semester. The Quest Editorial Board acknowledges Senate’s authority to make budgetary decisions, and are hopeful that this change will lead to more support for other publications on campus. This decision, however, is not without its concerns.
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Head Treasurer of the Student Body Senate emailed Oregon Lithoprint, the company which prints the Quest each week, requesting that they hold off printing our first issue of the year, as the Quest’s printing budget had not been approved. This sudden email was the first time the Quest had heard anything about changes to funding, or anything from Senate for that matter, and the email was sent to us less than an hour before we began editing and preparing the newspaper for print. Without any clear communication or resolution that night, and due to the continued uncertainty around funding, we unanimously decided as an editorial board to move forward with printing and to personally fund the cost.
On Monday, Sept.14, the Quest Board met with the Head Treasurer, Vice Treasurer, Student Body President, Student Body Vice President, and one Senator to discuss the printing budget. Senate originally expressed concerns about the Quest’s distribution plan for the fall 2020 semester in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and suggested that the Quest’s funding during the fall would be reduced. The Quest, however, had discussed plans for responsibly printing and distributing the paper with the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Group back in August, two and a half weeks prior to printing. Senate also raised concerns regarding long term issues with equity and the equitable funding of student publications. They informed the Quest Board that, beginning in spring 2021, the Quest would no longer be funded as a line item in Senate’s budget but would instead have to qualify for funding through Funding Poll like other publications. While the Quest Board had been told a decision would be made collectively, the members of Senate appeared to present the changes as final.
Following significant miscommunication from Treasury, the Quest Board requested to meet with all of Senate during their public meeting on Monday, Sept. 28 to discuss funding changes. During that meeting, Senate announced that an official vote to change Quest funding had been held in their private Executive Meeting the previous evening. This was surprising as the Board had been under the impression that the decision had already been voted upon and finalized two weeks prior in an Executive Meeting. Furthermore, despite the magnitude of the change, the vote was closed, and no information will be made public by Senate about how Senators voted.
Moving the Quest’s printing budget to Funding Poll also introduces concerns about the separation of powers within the student body. The Quest is the Reed community’s independent source for news. We should not be influenced by Senate or the administration; only the student body should hold us accountable, as they do through elections and by coming to our open meetings. Moving the Quest to Funding Poll does not actually hold the Quest accountable to the Student Body. As the Student Body President noted in Monday’s public Senate meeting, ultimately, all funding decisions are made by Senate, so they have the power to decide whether or not to approve the Quest’s proposed budget, regardless of how you vote.
The Quest fully supports and hopes to work with all student publications on campus, new and old. Questions regarding Quest funding, equitable funding, and the Quest’s relationship with Senate as well as other student publications are incredibly important, both for the current and future members of the Reed community. The Quest acknowledges that it is within Senate’s purview to make these decisions, and we will continue to work with them for budgetary needs. However, we are disappointed with how Senate handled these conversations, holding meetings and votes in secret without talking to any student publications editors or members of the student body.
Senate, moreover, made no effort to engage with the Quest until after they abruptly and inappropriately emailed our printer. Despite being included in numerous emails with the Business Office and Oregon Lithoprint, the first email we received from Senate or Treasury regarding funding was the email notifying us of changes to our printing funds and the next email directly to our printer. Senate stressed that they had spent weeks discussing and thinking about changing our funding, but that argument only concerned us more. Not only were we not included in the discussions, we weren’t even made aware they were happening. Senate did not request any information about our organization or request to meet with the Board to support them in their decision making. And we weren’t the only ones. They did not meet with any other student publication, either during the summer or at the start of the semester.
Furthermore, the general student body was not made aware of these discussions or votes. Senators and Senate leadership are elected by the student body, and it is their job to represent the student body. A vital part of that representation is allowing students to know how their elected officials are voting to ensure that they are being properly represented. Senate continues to hold more closed votes and crack down on confidentiality, but a government cannot be accountable to its constituents without transparency. The Quest urges Senate to commit themselves to transparency, to open themselves up to the Reed community rather than shutting them out.
We at the Quest remain committed, now and always, to representing the Reed student body and informing the Reed community. The Quest is shaped by our contributors, so whether you DM us a story suggestion on Instagram, submit a Letter to the Editors, or come chat with us during contributor’s meetings or our open editing nights, your voice matters. We look forward to meeting you and publishing your stories.
The Quest Editorial Board
Katherine Draves ‘22, Elai Kobayashi-Solomon ‘21, Clarissa Lam ‘23, Wani Pandey ‘23, and Dan Primka ‘21