Letter from the Editor

JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE
Scott Dresser, Editor in Chief. (JAY GELVEZON / AGGIE)

From the Feb. 9 print issue:

Hello! Remember us? It’s The Aggie. You haven’t seen us in print in a while — or ever, depending on your class level — but we’re still here, keeping a low profile in our timeless (and windowless) basement office in Lower Freeborn, uploading new content onto our website and updating our social media pages daily.

Thank you for picking up a copy of this special 100th Anniversary edition of The Aggie. Having the opportunity to publish a print newspaper as Editor in Chief of this esteemed campus institution is an incredible privilege.

My time at The Aggie over the past three years has been fairly tumultuous, filled with exhilarating highs and gut-wrenching lows. I took over as The Aggie’s campus news editor during Winter Quarter of my freshman year, and, within a week of being hired, I was spending my time sprinting across the Quad to go speak in front of 400-person lecture halls, campaigning for our 2014 “Save the Aggie” initiative.

That initiative, as many of you may remember, initially passed with an overwhelming 73 percent “Yes” vote in the election. However, the ASUCD Court deemed the initiative invalid, citing ambiguous and incorrect language on the measure itself. Soon thereafter, The Aggie decided to halt printing, cut staff pay and move to an online-only format. For the first time since 1915, there was no print newspaper at UC Davis. The paper in your hands right now is the first print edition of The California Aggie since that decision was made.

UC Davis is currently the only undergraduate UC campus without a regularly-printed school newspaper. This is an incredible disservice to our university on two fronts; for one, The Aggie cannot engage with the UC Davis community to its fullest capacity — which translates to a less-informed student body. The other is that there are hundreds of aspiring journalists on campus who don’t get the fundamental journalism experience and training they need to be successful in the field once they graduate. UC Davis does not have a journalism program, so The Aggie serves as the best (and only) hands-on experience for student reporters, columnists, photographers, layout artists, businesspeople and graphic designers.

To address these issues, we have created the “Print the Aggie” initiative, which will appear on the Winter Quarter 2016 ASUCD election ballot next week. Passing this ballot measure will enable The Aggie to once again be a print newspaper. If passed, quarterly student fees would increase by $3.73 — an infinitesimal 0.41 percent (!!!) raise from the $910.45 in student fees we already pay each quarter. Our fee expires after five years, unlike the others, which live on in perpetuity (and if that doesn’t piss you off, well, it should).

The Aggie staff is currently comprised of over 100 incredible volunteer undergraduate students, and income from this initiative would allow The Aggie to provide compensation to many of these staff positions. This is important because The Aggie often loses out on talented students who cannot afford to work unpaid jobs.

The fee initiative is all about sustainability. If passed, it would fund a professional business manager to oversee our finances and to ensure­ that The Aggie has a sustainable long-term future.

Some people may argue that printing newspapers is wasteful. To address this concern, we have conducted environmental assessment studies to determine how many copies of the paper to print on a week-by-week basis and where to strategically distribute print copies across campus.

I’ve been asked why, if we can print this special issue, we need alternative funding. The answer is simple: while we could probably cover the costs of semi-regular printing through ad revenue, we are mandated to pay $12,000 or so to ASUCD each year for our website and financial services. We simply cannot make that money in annual profit in today’s advertising market, in which digital ads are inexpensive. The Aggie is also the only student unit that receives zero funding from the student association.

You picking up this newspaper and reading through this letter is a testament to the fact that you are a curious and thoughtful University of California student. Newspapers have been a staple of American universities for as long these schools have been around, and they should still be ubiquitous on college campuses.

You deserve to have all the services and access to information that your peers at other UC campuses have, and we can bring this to you, but we need your help. From Feb. 16 to 19, please head to elections.ucdavis.edu and vote YES on the “Print the Aggie” measure. The Aggie has been around for 100 years, and let’s be the generation of students who lays the foundation for it to be around for 100 more.