Much ado about nothing
Method of restoring Helmsman funding unnecessary
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 21:11
The news media is sometimes accused of being sensational — often by those who are the subject of the latest big story — but it’s the University of Memphis administration that is making much ado about nothing this go round.
Last week, Vice President of Student Affairs Rosie Bingham sent letters to 16 groups that were allocated funds from the Student Activity Fee for the 2012-13 year to say some of those funds have to be taken away – but not really.
“As I am sure you are aware, Dr. Raines has directed that twenty-five thousand [dollars] be added to the Helmsman’s spring request for funding,” Bingham wrote. “… In order to restore the $25,000 to the Helmsman we must now reduce the previous allocations [to other groups.]”
She didn’t mention that the Helmsman’s funding was restored by order of President Shirley Raines after it was wrongfully reduced. She didn’t say that several members of the committee that cut funding expressed their disdain for the paper’s content when voting to reduce its funds – which, by the way, is a court-proven violation of the First Amendment.
At the end of the letter, Bingham tells the groups that though their funding is being reduced, they have permission to run on a deficit. “I am confident that we will replace your reduction,” she wrote.
So, let me get this straight. It’s the Helmsman’s fault that a University committee cut our funding when it didn’t approve of how we operate? And it’s our fault that other groups have to receive less money now? And after these dramatic letters were sent out telling groups they have to get a cut because of the paper, they aren’t even really being cut?
What was the purpose of that letter, Dr. Bingham, other than trying to build antagonism toward the paper?
Bingham told a reporter Monday that the University plans to repay these groups that received this latest pretend cut with money that was allocated last year, but never actually used – leftover funds they call “carry forward.”
Bingham told the reporter that she was “trying to do the right thing,” and her goal was not to have “the Helmsman to be blamed for a process.”
Why go the complicated route and take money from groups who want to use those funds for programs for students, and then give them that money back in a few months? Perhaps a better “process” would have been not cutting anyone at all and paying the Helmsman back with the funds Bingham said she hopes to use to restore funding to these groups that were artificially cut.
The pointless letter concludes with Bingham writing, “I truly regret this situation and hope that you will accept my apology.”
What I regret is the University’s passive-aggressive way of handling situations. The leader of one of the groups cut told me last week that she doesn’t blame the Helmsman and thinks the letter from Bingham was “childish.”
“You know how you guys can pay us back?” she said. “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
Don’t worry. We will.