Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 8
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Financial problems face blue moon

Whitman’s award-winning literary magazine blue moon called on students for support last month. “This is tragic news for those who care about creativity,” said senior blue moon Editor-in-Chief Kate Rosenberg in an e-mail she disseminated to student listservs. Rosenberg explained in her e-mail that the President’s Office is considering not sending copies of blue moon to incoming students as part of a welcome packet prior to their arrival on campus in the fall.

“We have come to rely on the President’s Office. That is something that is inherited, that understanding,” said blue moon’s public relations representative senior Mark Prentice.

In addition to the roughly $16,000 in funding blue moon receives from ASWC each year: this year ASWC’s contribution is $15,600: most of which is spent on the production of the publication, blue moon also depends on financial support from the President’s Office and the Dean of Students, which has varied between $500 and $4,000 in the past six years.

Rosenberg described how, while blue moon has money in their budget to fund the summer mailings to incoming students, sending the magazines would affect their ability to expand as a campus program. She noted new blue moon events like “Big Art,” which took place at Verve Coffee and Art House last Wednesday night, and “Install Me,” to be held on Jan. 23, in addition to the spring release party, all of which require additional funding.

“The reason that it is such a big deal is because having that additional financial burden on our budget, while it is totally feasible, severely limits other programming that we can do, mainly the quality of the release party,” said Rosenberg.

She solicited student testimonials, to be submitted to the President’s Office in order to demonstrate the impact that sending the magazine to incoming students has made in the past.

Rosenberg received 12 pages in responses.

“I do not exaggerate when I say that the presence of blue moon on campus was one of the primary attractions I had to this school. … It showed me that this is a college with a thriving, sophisticated art scene,” said first-year Jenna Mukuno.

“Seeing the gorgeous professional magazine made me realize that I was going to a school that valued creativity, that was full of exciting and talented people. I knew I wanted to be published in that magazine, to be on staff, and to be a part of that artistic community,” said senior blue moon Prose Selections Editor Sarah McCarthy.

“I was so excited when I got my copy of the blue moon as an incoming freshman. Forget admissions pamphlets: for the first time I could actually see the artistic and intellectual work of Whitman…it made me excited to study,” said junior Carson Booth.

The President’s Office has encouraged blue moon to consider publishing an online version of their magazine on the blue moon Web site that would be made available to incoming students. “We are trying to respond to student requests for increased sensitivity on the environment, and also to the blue moon’s desire to do what they have always done, and that seemed like a really good solution, for them to produce something that can be available online,” said Associate to the President Jed Schwendiman.

“While we are excited that the President’s Office is interested in funding an [online magazine], we believe that supporting a physical copy of the magazine sent to first-years is critical,” said Rosenberg. The magazine will be transitioning for the first time into printing on FSC certified recycled paper. “[Going recycled] demonstrates blue moon’s commitment to both representing professionally the arts and being environmentally responsible,” said Rosenberg.

Last year, the President’s Office gave blue moon $4,000 to purchase a new computer and upgraded software called “InDesign.” “[The staff of] blue moon made a very strong case that they needed additional support for a computer and upgraded software. So, between the President and the Dean of Students, they were given probably the largest amount of financial support of any student group,” said Schwendiman. In return, explained Schwendiman, blue moon agreed to fund the mailing of the magazine to incoming students. “I did certainly tell blue moon last year, when they were getting $4,000 that it was a very unusually high amount, and that they shouldn’t expect to get that much in the future, but I’m not sure that message sunk in, said Schwendiman.

Financial support from the President’s Office comes from the President’s discretionary funds. This year, President George Bridges decided to allocate the majority of his discretionary money, $150,000, toward a new grant initiative called “Support for Innovation in Teaching and Learning.” This grant proposal enables professors to apply for financial support in order to integrate new academic opportunities within their respective departments. Proposals include the following: “A department wants to create a domestic or international field study experience for its majors; A department wants to design and establish writing portfolios for its majors; Faculty members want to develop and test new approaches for assessing the quality of student learning.”

“The President’s Office, and the President, and the Dean of Students, and a lot of other people in the college, have strategically used this discretionary money to open up new possibilities for creative work. Just because we are not giving one group the same amount of money that they got last year, doesn’t mean we aren’t supporting creativity on this campus,” said Schwendiman.

The blue moon publication is in its 21st year at Whitman. Last year the magazine received a gold medal from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, a nationally recognized award. “It strikes us as strange that the year after blue moon achieves serious national recognition and is commended as being a pretty big deal in the literary arts magazine world of colleges, that is when administrative support drops off so steeply,” said Rosenberg.

The staff of blue moon is not the only student group that has received word the President’s Office doesn’t have money that existed for them in the past. “When you think about what the goal of Whitman College is, it is to have the best possible academic experience that you can,” said Schwendiman. He argued that because blue moon is already receiving a $15,600 budget from ASWC, they do not necessarily need the financial support they would be receiving from the President’s Office to be able to send copies to incoming students over the summer. “They need to make tough decisions based on their budget and their priorities. The President doesn’t have an unlimited budget.”

“After the recognition we have received there was a sense of momentum, of building. So to now have to think about cutting is a little bit difficult,” said Prentice.

“If there are other ways that we can support the blue moon that aren’t financial we would be happy to do that,” said Schwendiman.

Rosenberg is still in the process of negotiating with the President’s Office on behalf of blue moon. An official decision on the amount of support the magazine will receive has not yet been reached.

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