North Florida Spinnaker ‘Sex Cover’ Controversy: Update on Funding Freeze

The Spinnaker at the University of North Florida continues to be ensnarled in controversy.  Amid a brouhaha about a recent “racy” cover image, the student newspaper is also facing a temporary funding freeze approved by a portion of the UNF student senate.

The sudden action– ostensibly a response to a recent slight publication delay that caused a senate ad to be out of date by the time it appeared in print– is being sold as unconnected to the “sex cover.”  But the timing and extreme nature of the freeze cannot help but raise suspicions related to one main question: Is this an indirect punishment for a cover image deemed too provocative by some on campus?

In an email to CMM, Spinnaker editor in chief Josh Gore provides some background and an update on the funding freeze:

Today, the UNF student judiciary ruled against an appeal of Monday’s vote that froze Spinnaker funds for three days. Student Senate President Carlo Fassi had filed the appeal on behalf of the Spinnaker. Fassi has publicly supported the Spinnaker during this freeze.

The senate’s Budget and Allocations committee had voted 5-1 Monday to freeze the account. According to the UNF Student Government constitution, a three-fourths vote of the committee is all that’s needed to freeze the account of any student government-funded organization.

The reason given for the freeze was that an ad ran a day late in last week’s Spinnaker. The SG judiciary took out the ad about Crime Awareness Day (which was Wednesday), and it did not run until Thursday. The Spinnaker held the paper an extra day to cover the SG elections. This paper also was the edition that generated comment nationally because of its provocative cover.  Because the ad ran a day late, the Spinnaker never invoiced SG Judiciary, the same group who has a vested interest in the outcome of the ruling because it was their ad.

There are no checks and balances with the Budget & Allocations committee in this case, nor their ability to freeze an index. This is frightening.  The Spinnaker meets all the requirements in the constitution’s finance code to be in good financial standing. Some senators are currently working on language to fix the amount of latitude the B&A committee has when making such a ruling.

Today is the last day of the freeze. SG funding makes up about half of the salaries for the Spinnaker staff. The rest of the salaries and printing are paid through advertising.  At this point, I have reached out to university general counsel to see if this process was legal.

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