TSM Board

Editor’s Note: This year four candidates are running for three available voting seats on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, which oversees The Daily Texan, the Cactus yearbook, the Texas Travesty humor publication, Texas Student Television and the KVRX 91.7 FM radio station. Three candidates are running for the two at-large seats and one student for the one open Moody College of Communication seat. Candidates were asked shortly after their certification to write two 500-word columns. The second column focuses on a topic of the candidate’s choosing relating to their campaign. Candidates who participated wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. Among the at-large candidates, the top two vote-getters will be seated. Jan Ross Piedad, the Moody College of Communication candidate, has written a column that is running here. She agreed to forgo print space. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

My first contact with the Texas Student Media Board of Trustees occurred about two and a half years ago. Susannah Jacob, the editor-in-chief of the Daily Texan at the time, had encouraged me to attend what she thought would be a “historic board meeting.”

During the meeting the TSM Board would discuss — and vote on — cutting the print media publications TSM oversaw. The drastic move came because for the first time in its one hundred twelve year history, The Daily Texan and its peer publications faced a six-figure budget deficit — a lingering effect of years of declining print advertising revenue.

So, thanks to Susannah’s encouragement, around 2:30 p.m. that Friday I trudged from my class across campus to the FAC where the board meeting was in full swing. 

As I entered and walked up to the third floor, I realized that the room to which I was headed was packed — full beyond capacity. A police officer stood at the door to keep people from entering and violating the room’s fire safety code.  

I was stunned by the turnout, to say the least. Suddenly hesitant, I decided to linger in the hallway for a moment, thinking: Should I enter? Do I even belong here? What if the officer turns me away?

Thankfully, I decided that since I had walked all the way across campus in the blazing heat to attend this meeting, I would enter that room. No officer would stop me. So I did. I mustered my courage, pretended as though I knew exactly what I was doing, and waltzed right in. I’m so glad I did. 

I opened the door to face some of the most impassioned students and alumni I had seen. These people had taken time out of their day — and for some their jobs — to defend The Daily Texan, Texas Travesty and Cactus Yearbook. They had come to save the voice of the students. They had come to keep print journalism alive. 

Thanks to their efforts, the Texan endured on that day as it has continued to do so in many board meetings since then. It’s only because of their effort and dedication — that of the hundreds of students who work at Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — that the publications have endured. It’s these publications and these student interests that I will protect as a voting board member. 

A university as large, important and historic as UT needs a strong, independent student newspaper as much as it needs Student Government or Senate or college wide councils. It needs KVRX. It needs TSTV. It needs the Cactus, and it needs the Travesty. These publications in turn need representatives on the board that will protect them and the interests of the students who run them. 

In 1955, Daily Texan Editor Willie Morris wrote, “The Daily Texan is bigger than any one man … Protect it and its traditions [and] you will see your life here in much nobler focus.” He might as well have been talking about all five TSM publications — five publications whose publications and traditions I will protect on the TSM Board. 

Vote Amil Malik for TSM Board at-large on March 4 and 5.

Malik is a business honors and finance senior from Austin. She is running for an at-large seat on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees.

Editor’s Note: This year four candidates are running for three available voting seats on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees, which oversees The Daily Texan, the Cactus yearbook, the Texas Travesty humor publication, Texas Student Television and the KVRX 91.7 FM radio station. Three candidates are running for the two at-large seats and one student for the one open Moody College of Communication seat. Candidates were asked shortly after their certification to write two 500-word columns, the first on the following question: In recent years, the student board members have been accused of not investing enough effort in their positions. If elected, what would you do to play a more active role in TSM’s affairs, and what changes would you try to enact? Candidates who participated in this first round wrote their own headlines. Only light typographical corrections were made. Among the at-large candidates, the top two vote-getters will be seated. For more information on the candidates, please visit our candidate database here.

My name is McKay Proctor. I was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee.  I miss 91.1 WRVU. 

Throughout my childhood, Vanderbilt’s student-run radio station was an island of progressive taste in a sea of country. Sure, there were some Gregorian chants and Nicaraguan folk songs mixed in, but 91.1 WRVU was my window on the musical world. 

The summer of 2011, 91.1 WRVU died. Vanderbilt Student Communications sold the station’s broadcast license, upending the community of students, DJ’s and listeners that loved it. Losing WRVU felt like losing a friend. I’ll never forget it.

My dedication to the Texas Student Media Board comes from losing a piece of student-run media before I was even a student. I know how delicate, how precious these outlets are. When I begin my day with the Texan or listen to KVRX in my car, I remember the last time I heard WRVU. 

None of these outlets are guaranteed to stick around forever. We must defend them through consumption. We must treat them as the valuable pieces of student culture that they are. I want to take that attitude to the Texas Student Media Board to formalize my relationship with these wonderful cultural institutions on our campus. I will mirror the increase in responsibility with an upshot in accountability. 

As a member of the TSM Board, I would have a direct role in the direction of critical parts of our student culture. I could never take that responsibility lightly, but even less so when I felt the sting of mismanagement when 91.1 WRVU disappeared. We must appreciate them every moment we’re exposed to them, not just for their content, but for their very existence. We as a student body should feel blessed that these publications exist. If the board appointed to manage these outlets fails to appreciate that, can they expect consumers to do the same? 

As a member of the Board I would strive to change its reputation for under-achievement. Board members should be as engaged in their part of the process as the editors, staff writers, and DJs of the outlets are in theirs. 

I also wish to raise the profile of our media outlets to the level they deserve. KVRX is a phenomenal community-run radio station. The Daily Texan is a nationally regarded student publication. TSTV stands alone as a student-run FCC-listed television stations. The Cactus has been a part of student life since the days of old B-Hall. The Travesty is flat-out hilarious. Students need to know that, in part so distribution can reflect it, but also because they’ll attract students from a broader spectrum of campus to participate. Those people can then hold the TSM Board more accountable – a virtuous cycle where all flows from holding these publications in proper regard. 

I hope when you think about the kind of candidate I am and the sort of board member I will be, you see me tuning in to 91.1 on my radio dial in Nashville, and hearing the world through those airwaves. I felt the same amazement at those broad sonic horizons then that I do at the varied spectrum of Texas Student Media outlets now.  My name is McKay Proctor. I live in Austin, Texas. I love KVRX.

Proctor is an English and business honors senior from Nashville. He is running for an at-large seat on the Texas Student Media Board of Operating Trustees.

Members of the TSM Board discuss the upcoming election for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan.
Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Student Media Board certified David Davis Jr. and Claire Smith to run for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan in a contentions meeting Friday.

A third applicant, David Maly, was not certified because he did not meet the qualifications specified in the Texas Student Media (TSM) handbook. Maly worked for the Texan for three semesters as a reporter and copy editor, but has not worked for The Daily Texan since January 2013. 

The handbook specifies that each candidate must have experience of one semester as a permanent staff member in The Daily Texan’s opinion section as well as experience of one semester in another section. In the past, these qualifications have been waived by a two-thirds vote from the TSM Board. 

The TSM Board, which manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — voted to amend the handbook in November, altering the application requirements for editor-in-chief. Candidates who do not meet all of the requirements can now only be certified if no other fully qualified candidates have applied. 

In a meeting Thursday, board members — finance senior lecturer Heidi Toprac, journalism senior lecturer Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy — recommended the Board “roll back” November’s decision. 

At the meeting, Maly presented written concerns to the Board regarding November’s decision to amend the requirements for certification. Maly said that although he had not served as a permanent staffer in the opinion department, he had significant work in opinion departments at other publications, including The Horn and The Odyssey. Maly serves as editor-in-chief at both publications, according to a resume he submitted as part of his application.

Board President Mary Dunn said she thought the Board was correct to amend the certification process.

The debate between Board members about maintaining or discarding the November changes was, at times, contentious.

“I want to be very clear on this. I was aiming for clarity. I was aiming for consistency. I was not out on a personal vendetta against anyone,” Dunn said.

Five Board members, including Toprac, voted to uphold the decision. Only Quigley voted in opposition. 

“Our intent was to not add a new roadblock [to being certified],” Quigley said. “I don’t deny that, as a Board, we made a mistake in the fall — it was a ‘dunderheaded’ mistake … I think the solution should be that we to try to fix the mistake.” 

Board Vice President Arjun Mocherla said he didn’t see the merit in having qualifications if those qualifications could be easily waived.

“I think the qualifications of one semester in opinion and one semester not in opinion — at least from my outside perspective — seem fairly reasonable,” Mocherla said.  

Smith and Davis will begin campaigning Wednesday.

TSM Board member Heidi Toprac listens at Thursday’s TSM election committee meeting. Toprac recommended rescinding the Board’s previous qualifications decision.
Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

Three members of the Texas Student Media election committee recommended the board “roll back” a previous, unanimous decision to amend requirements for The Daily Texan editor-in-chief applicants in a meeting Thursday.

The TSM Board, which manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — postponed certifying candidates in a meeting last week after questions arose about the qualifications each candidate needed to meet.

“It did not occur to me that we could have a situation where we have many candidates, some of whom do and some of whom do not meet the requirements,” board member Heidi Toprac, a finance senior lecturer, said.

The Board voted to amend qualifications for the editor-in-chief position at their November meeting. Candidates are now required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion to be certified, according to the TSM Handbook. Three students applied to run for editor-in-chief, only two of whom met all the requirements.

Board members Toprac, Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy expressed concern over the decision in the meeting Thursday, saying the Board may have unintentionally narrowed the applicant pool. 

The handbook states the Board may certify a candidate by waiving requirements only if no qualified candidate for editor-in-chief applies by the deadline. Toprac recommended the committee request the Board “strike out” the first clause of the requirement, which would make it possible for any candidate to be certified, regardless of whether any qualified candidates applied. 

The three candidates — David Davis, Claire Smith and David Maly — will discuss their applications with the Board at a meeting Friday. Davis said he thinks the qualifications should be upheld.

“Why have qualifications if you’re just going to waive them,” Davis said. 

Board vice president Arjun Mocherla said waiving the requirements universally might be unfair to other Texan employees, who may have wanted to apply for editor-in-chief, but did not meet the requirements. 

“If we decide that we’re going to waive say the opinion requirement or something like that, I feel like every person at The Daily Texan could have filed at that point,” Mocherla said.

Toprac said she thinks November’s decision did not reflect the intention of the board, which was to increase the number of applicants.

“We never contemplated a circumstance that has now arisen,” Toprac said. 

Candidates will not be able to begin campaigning until they are certified. The deadline for certification is Tuesday. 

TSM election committee members Arjun Mocherla, Adam Alloy and Heidi Toprac discuss election issues in the Hearst Student Media Building.

Photo Credit: Andy Nguyen | Daily Texan Staff

If history’s greatest lesson is never to make the same mistake twice, TSM Board members Heidi Toprac, Robert Quigley and Adam Alloy are its worst students. 

At a meeting of the Texas Student Media election committee Thursday, these three dunderheads voted to recommend to the full board, which is meeting Friday to certify candidates for the upcoming Daily Texan editor-in-chief election, a “rolling back” of a previous unanimous decision by the board to change certain parts of the qualification process for the position. Their justification was to open up the position to a broader pool of applicants on the assumption that certain years would see no applicants (a situation that has not occurred any time in recent memory).

If the full board votes to approve this recommendation, it could allow for the certification of a candidate whose victory in the upcoming campus-wide elections could spell disaster for the Texan and TSM as a whole.

Over the course of the fall semester, the board voted to amend qualifications for both the managing editor and editor-in-chief position, respectively, of this paper. As a Texan reporter caught in a recording of the November meeting, the members of the board, including Toprac, Quigley and Alloy, voted unanimously to accept changes which would force the board to reject any candidates who did not meet all the qualifications, unless no fully qualified candidates came forward.

This year, candidates have come forward who meet all the qualifications as listed on the application. Another, David Maly, does not. Specifically, he lacks the editorial (opinion-writing) requirement that is absolutely crucial to the discharge of this job. Maly, who left the Texan two years ago, has since then maligned or threatened to malign numerous members of the organization, including last year’s board president, Dave Player, and has consistently brought negative attention to this organization.

Now, Maly dangerously wants to lead the largest entity within that organization.

Admittedly, the current board, which unfortunately suffers from high turnover, may not understand the unabridged version of the drama Maly has caused. 

At the very least, however, they do understand his obstreperousness and irascibility. They have seen him attack current board President Mary Dunn and request her removal for the flimsiest of reasons, mostly revolving around his failure to be certified for the editor-in-chief position last year, when he was also deemed ineligible for failing to meet certain requirements. They have seen him childishly stamp his feet when he didn’t get his way and go on a bad-mouthing rampage against the organization. Finally, they have seen him drag this organization, which has long protected the student voice on this campus, through more than a year of time-consuming administrative headaches.

Maly has sought multiple remedies from the board, including the already-mentioned removal of Dunn as well as a special election when the board rightfully denied his application to run for editor-in-chief last year. He is convinced that the board is corrupt, but the board has previously been cleared of all wrongdoing. 

Two fundamental questions remain, then. Why does a student so hell-bent on crippling this organization want to lead its flagship publication? And why are certain board members allowing themselves to be bullied into certifying an unqualified candidate?

Luckily, no damage has been done yet. The full board will have a chance to hash out its disagreements when it meets Friday at 1 p.m. in HSM 3.302. 

We urge any member of the UT community with concerns about this situation to attend the meeting or to write to the board, which may be contacted through TSM Operations Manager Frank Serpas atserpas@austin.utexas.edu.   

TSM Board President Mary Dunn speaks at the TSM board meeting Friday afternoon in the Belo Center for New Media. This is the first time the organization will not have to dip into its reserves since 2007.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For the first time since 2007, Texas Student Media (TSM), now under the domain of the Moody College of Communication, will not have to pull from its reserves at the end of the fiscal year. 

TSM, which manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — has been under severe financial constraints for the last several years.  

In a TSM Board meeting Friday, director Gerald Johnson said TSM will receive an allocation of up to $250,000 annually from the office of President William Powers Jr. to help cover anticipated deficits in the next three years. The allocation, which Johnson called a “budget mitigator,” will come at the end of the fiscal year. 

“The collective financial assistance that we’re being given really stops the organization from having to continually pull from our reserves at the rate we’ve previously had to do every year,” TSM Board President Mary Dunn said. “It allows us to focus more on innovation and creating a better educational experience rather than focusing on stopping the financial bleed that was potentially going to kill the organization.”  

Dunn said TSM’s reserves, or savings, are currently sitting at under $200,000. If TSM is under budget at the end of the fiscal year, then the organization can pull from the budget mitigator allocation. In recent years, TSM has had to withdraw close to $200,000 annually from its reserves. 

“It’s definitely not all solved,” Dunn said. “This is the very crucial first step, and it’s a significant first step in the right direction. So going forward, it’s imperative that we continue to figure out the most effective and efficient way of spending money and making money.” 

Johnson also announced utility costs for the William Randolph Hearst building, which houses TSM, are now covered by the Moody College. This will save TSM an estimated $70,000 annually.

“This is fantastic news,” Dunn said. “This is exactly the kind of information we’ve been hoping and begging for.” 

Additionally, in a few years, TSM will begin receiving 4.5 percent interest from a $1 million endowment earmarked by Moody dean Roderick Hart, according to Johnson. The endowment is part of a $50 million donation to the college from the Moody Foundation.

“Having that endowment creates a vehicle for which other people can contribute, and there’s an establishment down the road that, if we find other donors, we can ask them to enhance the endowment,” Johnson said. “And over time, it could potentially grow to the point where it’s providing a substantial portion of the support we need.”

Arjun Mocherla, vice president of the TSM Board, said the $1 million endowment and financial support from the Office of the President could be the end of TSM’s financial woes.

“I think this is a good year for TSM,” Mocherla said. “It pretty much signifies the beginning of upward momentum for Texas Student Media.”

Three UT students apply for Daily Texan editor-in-chief position

Three UT students have applied to run for editor-in-chief of The Daily Texan. On Wednesday, Texas Student Media released the applicants' names and applications, including letters of recommendation and statements to the Board. The TSM Board must certify each applicant before the applicant's name can go on the ballot.

The three applicants are David Davis, French and international relations and global studies senior, David Maly, journalism and economics senior, and Claire Smith, history and humanities junior. The editor-in-chief position is a year-long role. 

Certified candidates are required to have completed at least one semester as a permanent staff member in opinion, according to the TSM Handbook. Smith and Davis are the only applicants who meet this requirement. 

Davis spent three of his five semesters at the Texan in opinion as a columnist and associate editor and currently serves as associate news editor. Maly spent one semester as a copy editor and two semesters in the news department as a reporter, but he has not worked for The Daily Texan since 2013. Smith joined the Texan for the first time in the fall as an opinion columnist and has since been promoted to senior columnist. She will begin working as a copy editor Thursday.

In his letter to the board, Maly said he would work to make the Texan's opinion section less inclusive.

"Along with content, as Daily Texan editor a priority for me would be to make the Opinion Section less inclusive," Maly said. "Furthermore, I would like to make the section less inclusive in terms of staff and coverage."

All three candidates also acknowledged TSM's ongoing financial woes.

Board-certified candidates will run in the campuswide election on March 4 and 5. If necessary, a runoff election will be held March 11 and 12.  

Davis, Maly and Smith will discuss their applications with the Board at Friday’s meeting. To read the candidates' application documents, click here.

Photo Credit: Carlo Nasisse | Daily Texan Staff

Although University administrators have made multiple pledges to provide transitional funding and a $1 million endowment for Texas Student Media, no official documentation of any of these promises has reached the organization’s governing Board, according to TSM Board President Mary Dunn.

TSM, the organization that manages five student-produced media properties — Cactus Yearbook, Texas Travesty, Texas Student TV, KVRX 91.7 FM and The Daily Texan — has been under severe financial constraints for the last several years. In January 2014, administrators moved TSM from its former home in the Division of Student Affairs to the Moody College of Communication without consulting Board members. Two months later, Moody dean Roderick Hart told Board members the college would work to develop a viable business plan by the fall of 2017 that would place TSM on the path to financial stability. At an open Board meeting, Hart said he would ask President William Powers Jr. to provide three years of transitional funding to keep TSM afloat. 

Powers sent more than $100,000 to help TSM recover from the brink of bankruptcy last spring and told The Daily Texan the University has committed up to $250,000 annually to TSM for the next three years. In an interview this week, Dunn said TSM’s governing Board has not been presented any official documentation that this money will be available.

“When you’re dealing with volunteers who meet once a month, making these huge multimillion dollar decisions in a public forum, it’s just imperative that you have the details really concrete,” Dunn said.

Powers said he hopes funds will be made available as soon as possible to the TSM Board, which is tasked with passing this year’s budget in March.

“The idea is to get [the money] as quickly as we can to TSM, where TSM can use it,” Powers said. “I will do everything I can to make sure that happens.”

In an interview Monday, Hart told The Daily Texan he earmarked a $1 million endowment for TSM from the $50 million Moody Foundation donation in October 2013 — three months before TSM actually became part of his college.

 “At that time, I wasn’t responsible for Texas Student Media, so this was just something I did because of my belief in it,” Hart said. “At that point I wasn’t really involved in the day-to-day work of Texas Student Media.”

Dunn said when she requested information about the endowment, Moody College officials did not confirm any details.

 “A lot of times they were like ‘we’re not quite sure what you’re talking about,’” Dunn said. “I have been hunting down this rumor of a million dollar endowment for a year now because it was mentioned once in public meeting a year ago, and we never heard about it again.”

 Dunn said she is unsure if the Board would have direct access to either the endowment or the transitional funding.

 “We can’t pass a budget based on numbers we’re assuming are going to come in,” Dunn said. “We can only pass the budget based on concrete, in writing agreements with sources of certain funding.” 

In June, the Moody College appointed Gerald Johnson as TSM director to help navigate the new relationship between TSM and the Moody College. Johnson said the Board has not received an official timeline for the funding from Moody College.

 “Other than conversations with the Board, there hasn’t been anything official that explains it,” Johnson said.