An old edition of the Tower Light poetry book. | Courtesy Twitter

Student Federation’s recent decision to uphold the pub­li­ca­tions budget passed last semester shows com­mitment to its prin­ciples and mission.

Last semester, the federation’s pub­li­ca­tions com­mittee was tasked, as it is every year, with rec­om­mending a budget to govern Hillsdale’s student pub­li­ca­tions. The com­mittee took their respon­si­bility seri­ously and worked tire­lessly, meeting with faculty, advisors, and pub­li­cation staff members.

They con­sidered alter­na­tives to make the budget more effi­cient, per­forming cost-benefit analyses of each rec­om­men­dation. Their ultimate goal was a financial plan which both allowed pub­li­ca­tions to function at maximum effi­ciency and respected the federation’s duty to dis­tribute funds wisely on behalf of the student body at large.

One of the committee’s most sig­nif­icant deci­sions was to cut and restructure the budget of the Tower Light, a pub­lished col­lection of poems, short stories, and visual arts created by Hillsdale’s stu­dents.

The com­mittee rec­om­mended that the Tower Light spend more on mar­keting the pub­li­cation and increasing read­ership, com­pen­sating its con­trib­utors, and less on printing costs. Rather than print locally like other student pub­li­ca­tions, the Tower Light was out­sourcing to a printer in Romulus, Michigan for nearly five times the cost of on-campus printing, with the result that most of the money allo­cated to Tower Light went directly to the printer.

This was not the first time Student Fed­er­ation had pro­posed a revision to the Tower Light’s budget. The issue resur­faces nearly every year and has for a decade, as com­mittee after com­mittee reviewed the budget and con­cluded that it was inef­fi­cient.
But this year, the Student Fed­er­ation did some­thing about it.

After careful delib­er­ation, and with the rec­om­men­dation of both the pub­li­ca­tions and finance com­mittees, the Student Fed­er­ation passed the budget on April 25 by a land­slide vote of 16 – 3.

We saw that if the Tower Light could be printed here at Hillsdale, it could afford to print more copies, better com­pensate its editors for their work, and invest in gal­va­nizing interest in the Tower Light and other pub­li­ca­tions — all for about half the normal annual budget.

We remem­bered where the money came from and that our duty was not only to the readers of Tower Light, but to every student who pays student fees. We have a respon­si­bility to spend those fees as wisely and respon­sibly as pos­sible, espe­cially when con­sid­ering pro­posals which affect a minority of stu­dents.

The $5,400 saved rep­re­sents only a mar­ginal dif­ference in pre­sen­tation for the Tower Light — the dif­ference in quality that had pre­vi­ously existed between it and Hillsdale’s student-run mag­azine, The Forum.

Put to better use, that money could fund dozens of on-campus events or amenities whose ben­efits all Hillsdale stu­dents could reap.

Most impor­tantly, we trusted in the painstaking efforts of the pub­li­ca­tions com­mittee.

The pub­li­ca­tions committee’s careful work and earnest rec­om­men­dation are worthy not only of respect and grat­itude, but also of a fair trial and assessment by Student Fed­er­ation. Our con­fi­dence in their dili­gence was reflected in the margins of both the original vote, 16 – 3, and the most recent vote on Sept. 12 to reaffirm the budget, 11 – 2.

The Tower Light staff has done an admirable job adjusting to the new budget, and they deserve to be com­mended for their hard work. Their new social media and rein­forced adver­tising cam­paigns have resulted in more authors, more sub­mis­sions, and, pre­sumably, more read­ership.

Thanks to their dili­gence and ini­tiative, the Tower Light is stronger and healthier than ever. The increased interest in the Tower Light should be a welcome sight to readers and non-readers alike.

But real coop­er­ation with the financial plan means oper­ating for a full year within the yearly budget and hon­estly assessing the effects of the new structure on every facet of the Tower Light, including printing.

For­tu­nately, there is no reason to believe printing on campus will decrease interest in the Tower Light in the slightest. To suggest oth­erwise does a dis­service to the con­trib­utors them­selves. The beauty of Tower Light is intrinsic; it does not depend on fancy embossed paper or glue bindings.

The truth is, if beauty pri­marily depends on extrav­agant pre­sen­tation and fancy paper, then much of the ancient poetry and lit­er­ature we study here at Hillsdale would not be beau­tiful at all. In fact, beauty is not pri­marily dependent on these things.

Every con­tributor to the Tower Light has the potential to compose beau­tiful poetry, no matter what paper it’s printed on. That was true in April, and it is true today.

Ulti­mately, this was not a decision based on scarcity. It was a decision based on prin­ciple. No matter how much money is in the emer­gency fund, every financial pro­posal before the Student Fed­er­ation must meet the same standard: Is it a respon­sible and prin­cipled use of the funds entrusted to us by our con­stituents?

By insisting on putting this budget to the test, the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the student body reaf­firmed their com­mitment to invest the stu­dents’ money with wisdom and pru­dence.

Sean Collins is a junior studying Classics, and phi­losophy and religion. He is an inde­pendent rep­re­sen­tative on the Student Fed­er­ation.