Stony Brook University no longer has a campus TV channel after an Undergraduate Student Government act shut down SBU-TV, the school’s closed-circuit television station.
The Reformation of SBU-TV Act, rushed to the senate floor for a Feb. 17 USG meeting, passed by one vote.
“TV is an outdated medium of putting out video content,” USG Vice President of Communications and Public Relations David Mazza said during the meeting. “We are an online generation. When you want to know something, you go online.”
After the senate failed to vote on a larger Office of Communications Act during a Feb. 16 executive budget meeting, the Undergraduate Student Government quickly drafted the SBU-TV reformation act.
The original act called for control of the station, a quasi-independent agency meant to “provide media services to the Undergraduate Student Government and all its members,” to be delegated to the vice president of communications. The change was meant to alleviate USG President Matt Graham – previously responsible for ensuring that the station fulfill its duties – of some responsibility and to strengthen USG’s control over its agencies, according to Mazza.
Before passing the reformation act, the senate amended it twice. The first change put a freeze on SBU-TV’s budget until the station is reformed by official legislation. The second ensured that students are an integral part of the reformation.
Though the SBU-TV reformation act was not originally on the Feb. 17 meeting’s agenda, a 165-signature petition in its favor allowed it to enter the senate floor.
The rush came after fears that SBU-TV members, upset about the station’s reformation, would attempt to steal, damage, or hide some of the station’s equipment, which is valued at $240,000 in total, Graham said.
During the debate on the act, the senate voted unanimously to allow SBU-TV Production Manager Brandon Baiden to speak on behalf of the station. In his argument, Baiden said that no equipment had gone missing under the current e-board and that SBU-TV members were not given a chance to discuss any of the proposed changes prior to the meeting.
He also said that there was no real way to measure how many people watch SBU-TV and that content was already available on a YouTube channel.
The television station had been awarded an annual budget of $35,000, which was partially allocated toward the salary of a professional staff member. Steve Kreitzer, as a university employee, had editorial responsibility and control over all of the station’s content. Without the closed-circuit television station, it is not necessary for the university to employ a staff member.
USG did not believe it to be fiscally responsible to operate the television station at a cost of $35,000 to students, Mazza said. He added that SBU-TV had a “non-working relationship” with the university and with USG because of the editorial control that the university had through Kreitzer.
SBU-TV Treasurer Melissa Chan, who has been a part of SBU-TV since spring 2010, said that the students controlled what content aired and that Kreitzer never denied any student content.
“We were active last semester,” Chan said, explaining that SBU-TV staffers covered events such as Tabler’s open mic nights and USG meetings.
“SBU-TV was a training ground,” she said. “You could gain experience in a closed-circuit television station. We had a studio, we had an editing room and we had an office, and now all that has been taken.”