ASUN

ASUN President Spencer Hartman listens to a speaker during the open forum at the ASUN meeting regarding The Daily Nebraskan's funding on Wednesday, March 15, 2017.

The Association of Students of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln senate voted on several issues during its March 15 meeting, including ASUN president Spencer Hartman’s veto on The Daily Nebraskan’s fee allocation.

Hartman vetoed the ASUN senate’s decision to restore The Daily Nebraskan’s funding to its original budget request of $134,882. Originally, the Committee for Fee Allocations recommended The Daily Nebraskan’s budget to be $114,650.

This is the first veto by an ASUN president in five years. The senate needed a two-thirds majority vote to overturn the veto.

During this past week, Hartman has told several media organizations, including The Daily Nebraskan and the Omaha World-Herald, that he would not make a statement on the veto until the March 15 meeting.

The statement he read during the meeting said he “supports The Daily Nebraskan and maintains that stance today.” He said other fee users, like Campus Recreation and the University Health Center, have about 10 percent of its total fee allocation in reserves. The Daily Nebraskan, with a $700,000 reserve account, has approximately 150 percent in reserves. 

“It is for these reasons that I believe The Daily Nebraskan should come in line with the philosophy that this senate has applied to all the other fee users of fiscal responsibility,” Hartman’s statement read.

Hartman did not specify what he was specifically vetoing, but has maintained from the beginning he was vetoing the amendment for the $20,000 budget increase.

The Daily Nebraskan filed a petition to the Student Court to challenge the constitutionality of Hartman’s veto, and it requested Hartman withdraw his veto or acknowledge that his veto is for the full $134,882 allocation. The Daily Nebraskan also requested a temporary restraining order that would delay the March 15 vote until after the Court made its decision.

The Student Court said it would make a decision after the senate voted on the veto. A hearing is scheduled for March 28. 

Several students, including senior law student and staff member of the biology department Austin Dam, spoke in favor of the veto. Dam said arguments in favor of the student publication are mostly emotional, and that if student fees pay for The Daily Nebraskan because it’s an “educational experience,” then student fees should pay for his experience at his Farmhouse fraternity because that also provides educational value.

CFA member Shelby Riggs also spoke in favor of the veto.

“They claim that dipping into those reserve funds is a punishment,” Riggs said. “Any business would dip into their reserves in times of loss.”

Opponents of the veto also spoke during open forum, including Daily Nebraskan editor-in-chief Lani Hanson, incoming editor-in-chief Aidan Connolly and Omaha World-Herald reporter and Daily Nebraskan alumna Mara Klecker.

Klecker said it wasn’t right for CFA and Hartman to try and cut The Daily Nebraskan’s funding without guidance on where the cuts should come from.

“I understand you are trying to be fiscally responsible,” Klecker said. “But cutting $3 isn’t fiscally responsible, and I think it’s hiding behind something else.”

Senator Ignacio Correas said because of the Student Court’s wording, the senate should be able to interpret the veto how it sees fit. Correas made a motion to interpret the veto as a “full veto,” meaning the veto would overturn the entire appropriations bill and leave The Daily Nebraskan without any student funding.

“President Hartman’s intent doesn’t matter,” Correas said. “The student court is allowing us to interpret the veto.”

Senator Eric Rodene said the senate should not infringe on Hartman’s right to veto.

“I don’t think we should be making some hot-headed decision tonight and let the Student Court do its job,” Rodene said.

Correas’ motion failed, and discussion on the veto began.

Internal Vice President Laurel Oetken spoke in support of The Daily Nebraskan.

“I firmly believe that it would be a disservice to our constitutions to cut funding to The DN,” Oetken said. “You need to represent students and not yourself when you’re voting tonight.”

Senator Camille Sippel said the argument of The Daily Nebraskan reaching out to alumni for monetary support is unrealistic.

“The average journalist makes $40,000,” Sippel said. “You really think they’re going to make donations year after year?”

Sippel said senators should look at The Daily Nebraskan not as a business but as a nonprofit.

Senator Jackson Grasz moved to vote on the veto.

The veto stood after a 21-6 vote. Twenty-two votes were needed to secure a two-thirds majority vote.

The Student Court will now rule on whether Hartman’s veto was constitutional. If found to be unconstitutional, it could overturn the veto and restore The Daily Nebraskan’s funding to $134,882. However it could also rule that Hartman’s veto was for the entire funding of the student newspaper.

If that was the case, Hartman said he would not let The Daily Nebraskan be fully defunded.

The senate also voted on the smoke-free campus recommendation. Hartman wasn’t satisfied with the letter to the chancellor included in the bill and said he wanted to use his own vernacular in the actual letter. A bill was proposed to send the ASUN president’s letter to the chancellor showing ASUN’s support for developing a policy to prohibit the use of smoke-producing tobacco products at UNL. The bill passed.

Additionally, ASUN voted on several FCLA bills and passed them all.

The next senate meeting on March 29 will start at 6 p.m. instead of 6:30, and will take place on City Campus instead of East Campus because of installation.

news@dailynebraskan.com