StudCo denies paper CIO status, cites company's for-profit nature
Council thwarts publication’s on-Grounds distribution attempts
Student Council voted at its representative body meeting Tuesday evening to decline the The Black Sheep publication’s request for CIO status, which would have permitted it to receive funding from student activities fees.
Copies of The Black Sheep, a student-run satirical publication, started appearing around Grounds this semester. The group promotes humorous content covering college-related topics directed at students on college campuses across the nation, with different student writing staffs at each school. The newspaper has its corporate headquarters in Chicago and also started producing an online edition in early 2009.
The paper had previously been distributing on-Grounds for several weeks before being notified by one of the assistant deans in the office of the Dean of Students it would need to obtain contracted independent organization (CIO) status to continue distribution, or it would be viewed as soliciting.
The University’s policy does not allow for-profit publications to distribute on Grounds. Other publications, such as The Cavalier Daily, are allowed to distribute because they are non-profit and are overseen at all levels by University students. Staff members for The Cavalier Daily also do not receive payment, though the advertising staff receives commission.
Jakob Scheidt, a second-year College student and the campus manger of The Black Sheep, said he sees the publication as an alternative path for students who are unable to take part in other media groups on campus. “I think it’s an outlet for aspiring writers who, for whatever reason, can’t get involved with the more established organizations at the University,” he said. “We have our own style.”
Scheidt said an on-Grounds distribution would allow the publication to increase the chances for students to participate. He said the appeal to Council for CIO status was not a request for funding, but instead an attempt to obtain permission to distribute on Grounds.
Council members expressed concerns about supporting a for-profit group distributing at the University.
Peter Finnochio, a third-year College student who also works for the Black Sheep, said although the for-profit corporate headquarters leads the group, the University branch functions differently. “Our writers aren’t paid,” he said. “It’s true that myself as a distribution manager and the manager are paid, but the purpose of that pay is to offset the cost of distributing as well as hiring a team of people to help with that side of things.”
Klaus Dollhopf, co-chair of Council’s Academic Affairs committee, argued the institution was being inaccurately defined as for-profit because moving on Grounds does not impact its profit.
Six members voted to decline the request for CIO status, five supported it, and eight abstained from voting.
John Woolard, a third-year College student who voted against approval of CIO status, said the group lacked a sufficient reason for CIO status. “They just didn’t provide a satisfactory explanation about what they provided to the University community,” he said. “Council had a lot of questions about the nature of how they make money and who they’re paying money out to and they just didn’t make the case.”
Finnochio said The Black Sheep would seek other ways to be able to distribute on Grounds.
Scheidt said the publication had previously been distributed free of charge to apartments and Greek housing off Grounds and would continue to do so regardless of the outcome. “If [for] some reason we weren’t allowed to distribute on Grounds we would continue as we are, but hopefully we will be able to come to some agreement with the University,” he said.