Update 8:02 PM: According to USG Vice President of Communications David Mazza, the Office of Communications Act is not on the agenda for tonight’s USG Senate Meeting.
SBU-TV, Stony Brook’s student-run closed-circuit television station, could be shut down if pending legislation currently before the Undergraduate Student Government Senate is passed tonight. The proposal would eliminate Channel 20 and absorb the club into the USG’s Office of Communications.
The act has not yet been voted on, but it seems likely to pass at tonight’s weekly USG Senate meeting.
Early signs of conflict over the long-term future of the station surfaced last year, when USG Executive Vice President Alex Dimitriyadi requested that Steve Kreitzer, the only paid and licensed employee at SBU-TV, upload more content online, with the goal of attracting more viewers.
“The closed circuit TV only benefits residents; we wanted to move content online so that everyone could see it,” said Dimitriyadi. “But I don’t think that is the reason for this legislation.”
But based on the language in the USG’s legislation, it does appear to be the single most significant cause.
“Stony Brook Television is, an outdated form of communication and broadcast journalism, and is unavailable to nearly half of the undergraduates of Stony Brook University,” reads the legislation.
“SBU-TV is not an independent publication, it was founded in order to document the history of the campus,” said Dimitriyadi, who described SBU-TV as acting too independently in recent years. “This is an effort to gain control.”
At the moment, there is no clear plan in the legislation to restructure a USG-managed SBU-TV, but the Senate will appoint a new executive board that will presumably oversee the change.
Dimitriyadi said that the restructuring of the Student Activities Board last year could serve as a model for what is to come.
Brandon Baiden, a junior and the Production Manager and News Director at SBU-TV, described the process by which the legislation, which he considers unfair, was written.
According to Baiden, the USG never consulted with the executive board of SBU TV on possible restructuring, something that he and his colleagues would have been happy to do.
The members of SBU-TV were kicked out of their office at 12:30 a.m. by an “executive order” because, according to USG President Matt Graham, who allegedly delivered the order, “Things go missing when people are upset.”
Baiden said he felt insulted, but was even more upset that he couldn’t get a word in. “The USG won’t allow club members to speak on an act on their club until after it is passed. Senators in USG are voting on a one-sided story,” said Baiden.
He also described a request that they replace all of their equipment with digital equivalents. Baiden said fulfilling such a request would “probably [cost] three or four times” the station’s current $35,000 budget, which is likely to be cut.
Baiden’s argument, which he presented to his Journalism 108 class prior to a lesson on censorship, is that it is crucial that students be able to run student media. He passed a petition around the room which gathered more than 50 signatures by the end of class.
“It’s like a dictatorship,” Baiden recalled saying to Graham after having been kicked out of his office.
“It is,” Graham allegedly replied.