A Fine Print Box in three easy steps: Paint, Tag, Distro!

*Spoiler Alert: We have reason to believe it’s been saved.

With all the misinformation, misleading arguments, and out-of-date facts coming from banners on the tops of popular websites, we at The Fine Print thought we’d set the record straight with those monolithic modular boxes on campus.

This past summer The Alligator launched a website and petition they called “Save the Racks” in response to UF’s over-three-years-in-the-making decision to eliminate all free-standing private newspaper boxes from campus.  The Alligator claims that confining their newspapers to the black modular boxes is a violation of free speech because they can’t have their signature orange boxes.  And with their knee-jerk reaction of an entire website and petition thrown together just weeks before the deadline to remove all independent racks, the Alligator is responding as if they’ve just been hit with this news.

The truth is all publications who have been distributing on campus since 2009 have been aware of the entire process and have even been given the opportunity to meet with the Business Services Division (BSD), the entity in charge of the newspaper box distribution system, and have their voice heard.

The Fine Print has documents and emails from the BSD ranging from 2009 to the present notifying us of the 2009 UF 2.003 Distribution of Printed Material, which was the first notice of the new change. This includes a timeline for the removal of private racks, notification of the removal of independent racks and where they were moved to, notification of a fee for the use of the modular boxes, inviting us to meetings to make sure our voices are heard, and even accepting our input by writing our suggestions into the regulation.

The most important issue to us as a small publication with almost no budget other than to print was not the color of the boxes, but the proposed fee for any publication of $50 to $100 per slot per semester to use the modular boxes.  So we met with the directors in BSD on multiple occasions and we gave them our input, which ended up getting incorporated into the written regulation, which was to guarantee that all new publications have a period of time to use the modular boxes for free as they’re just getting started to ensure freedom of speech and to improve the chances of success for any newly-created student publications.  This happened in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Then, mere months before the implementation date of the new mandatory use of the modular boxes on campus in August of  2012, the Alligator tried to sue UF for not preserving the obvious free speech distinction between orange boxes and black boxes and began a website and online petition to “Save the Racks.”

However, as of Oct. 16 UF has released an updated 2.003 Distribution of Printed Material document which makes concessions for all unhappy parties.  Not only does the new 2.003 regulation allow previously existing non-modular boxes to remain as they are, thus letting the Alligator keep their existing orange racks, but it also, and much more importantly, completely gets rid of the original plan to charge $50 to $100, per slot per semester, and  will continue to offer the space for free.  Publications are currently, and have been for over a year, using the modular boxes for free.

That fee would have been a huge portion of The Fine Print’s printing and operating budget and would have severely limited our ability to distribute to UF students on campus.  With that fee gone however, The Fine Print fully endorses the new modular boxes.  And we’ll tell you why.

First, we think the modular boxes will make it easier for UF to maintain the boxes and keep a cleaner campus.

Second, distributing on campus is now doubly free, by currently not having to pay for the modular boxes or having to use our own racks that we paid for, and getting those paid-for racks back and relocating them elsewhere in Gainesville.

And finally, more of our boxes out and about town means increased reach, distribution and recruitment. But it also means a possible boost in ad sales and revenue, which could turn into more issues and better content, and that’s what we’re all about. More issues and better content.

Really, the fact that our stickers won’t be the biggest or our box color won’t be the only bright shining neon beacon in the distance does not matter.  All our same content is still there, now just in an equal-sized, equal-recognition box.


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