Editorial

We are asking you for a 75 cent increase in the levy the Varsity receives. To understand why,we need to take a quick journey into the wonderful world of advertising.

Ninety per cent of the Varsity ‘s budget comes from advertising revenue,the rest from the $1.25 levy we presently receive from undergraduates. The fact that we get so much of our budget from ad revenue is a good thing,in many ways. It keeps the costs to students very low. And it means we are producing a decent newspaper that advertisers want to be a part of.

But it also makes us very susceptible to the whims and nuances of the economy. While the good news is that the recession seems to have been short-lived,the bad news is that the advertising market will take some time to recover. Even then,it will never likely return to its levels of just a few years ago. Meanwhile the costs of making the newspaper increase every year.

The problem is twofold. First, advertisers don ‘t advertise a lot when the economy is just “good.” They advertise when the economy is on a roll.

This is because when they are making very large profits they have a simple choice —pay taxes on that money,or pay less taxesby spending some of that profit on ads. With most big businesses now achieving modest profits at best, the pool that exists for advertising is limited.

What ‘s more,if they are cutting back on that budget, it is the smaller publications that get cut back first. It ‘s just the nature of the business.

Just as importantly,with every year there are more and more different ways to target students.

A few decades ago, student press was the only game in town. Now, there are myriad ways to reach students, from coupon books to sponsorships to sample goods distribution. The piece of the pie received by student newspapers is diminished.

Which leaves us where we are now. In the first term,for instance, advertising dropped off by more than 30 per cent.It has rebounded now, but it is still far from its levels in previous years.

All that leaves us with a deficit. We can take it this year because good financial planning in the past has allowed us to save up for a rainy day.

But after this year, that rainy dayfund will start to run on fumes. And as mentioned before,costs continue to creep ever upward.

We are still committed to producing a paper that serves students well, and that attracts advertisers. But to continue to do so only on the $1.25 we receive is simply not feasible anymore. Which is why we are asking for the 75 cent increase. It is a small increase —just enough to maintain existing levels of service.It ‘s a lot less than students pay for things like the Students ‘Administrative Council or Hart House, and we believe we provide a service that is at least on par with those and other organizations students fund.

In our sixty issues each year, we involve hundreds of students. We keep on top of what the administration does with your money. We provide a forum for young minds to debate and develop.

We cover campus arts and campus sports. And we help keep everyone informed of events and issues on campus.

All this only costs a fraction of what students pay for their newspaper at other campuses in Canada. All pay more —generally $5 per student, sometimes as much as $20.

Of course,even with 75 cents we recognize that more money entails more responsibility. That ‘s why we are also making the levy refundable.

Currently, if the editors are not meeting the needs of students,students who are dissatisfied still have to pay for the Varsity.

But if the referendum goes forward,the levy will be refundable. Students will always have the power to send editors a message by asking not just for the 75 cents back, but for the whole levy.

In short,the levy is a way to ensure a high-quality,accountable student newspaper at U of T for years to come.

Every editor here has worked hard —sometimes up to 70 hours per week —to leave this paper better than we found it, to truly serve and involve students.

With your support of the levy, you can set that work in stone, and ensure the paper continues to improve with every successive year.

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