BTV shoots for revival
Brandeis Television has lost some of its funding this year following controversy last fall about the club's questionable use of secured funds. Last year, according to former club leader Ethan Mermelstein '12 and information gathered from a list of BTV expenses from fiscal 2010, the club spent thousands of dollars of Union funding to produce individual film projects and pay for club members' flights to the Berlin International Film Festival. Meanwhile, no original content had been shown on BTV channel 65 since 2009.
While an inquiry into its progress from last year has revealed few gains thus far, the club's new leaders are hoping to give BTV a new image and renewed purpose on campus.
BTV treasurer Ethan Roseman '15 attributed much of the club's problems in the past couple of years to the make-up of last year's membership. Membership presented an issue, Roseman said, as there were only senior and first-year members, leading to a lack of content because so many members were still attempting to learn the ropes.
"BTV has actually gotten less funding this year than we have in previous years. We think that's in part due to the lack of content last year," said Roseman in an interview with the Justice. The Finance Board could not be reached for comment prior to press time regarding the reasoning for the cut in funding.
According to F-Board Chair Nathan Israel '14, the F-Board has recently taken action in order to determine the proper funding that clubs should receive depending upon their purposes and initiatives. "Emails have been sent out by our secretary requesting that all clubs send in and update My Brandeis with their constitutions," said Israel in an interview with the Justice. "So, while we're waiting for those to come in ... we hope to take into account what a club was established for in determining how much money they receive. It's not something we do right now, but it is a move we're going toward."
The lack of junior and sophomore members in BTV led the first-year members from the 2011-2012 school year to take charge of the club as sophomores. Despite the fact that the board is full of underclassmen, the members have begun attempting to regain the status of BTV as a productive club.
"I think the difference mainly between this year and last year is that we are definitely trying to become much more Brandeis-oriented," said BTV Secretary Margaret Hoffman '15 in an interview with the Justice. "We're working with lots of different clubs on campus ... We have the ability to further student productions; we have the ability to advertise a bunch of things going on ... So we're trying to really become a resource for people to use on campus."
According to an October 18, 2011 Justice article, technical issues with BTV's channel have existed in the past, resulting in a lack of broadcasting.
"We work through MTS, so some of the things are a bit reliant on them, and they've done a great job, but some of their hardware had some minor issues last year and the channel wasn't accessible everywhere," said BTV President Rohan Narayanan '15 in an interview with the Justice. "We've had multiple meetings with MTS and we're having another one in a few weeks to just solidify accessibility and their technology so that we're clear on both ends, but we're also looking to get the channel accessible on our website and in different ways so that people can see it not just through their TVs."
According to Roseman, restoring the channel was a priority to share students' works funded by BTV. "We ... purchased something at the very beginning of the year, which is a new set-top box for the channel, which is kind of like the server for all the videos, so that's now in there and the channel should be stable," said Roseman. In addition to the channel, according to Roseman, the club plans to publish content on its new website, brandeis.tv, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
According to Narayanan, the channel is currently up and running but is only showing content from previous years that they are hoping to update this year. The club has also posted three videos on its Facebook page, including two submitted by member James Conlon '16, and episode one of a new project called "Deisian Couple," which can also be found on the club's YouTube channel "deistv."
Although the club has received less funding compared to last year, only $13,000 according to the My Brandeis Club Center website, BTV is not currently planning to ask for more funding for this school year. "We're not really planning on asking for more funding because we want to kind of prove to the F-Board that we deserve the funding we got, and ... that we can use it well, so maybe next year we'll get more funding," said Hoffman. "But we're going to try to have a big event on campus, and we're also going to try to maybe buy a camera [and are] looking into new equipment to get, as well as still funding student productions, so we just want to make the most use of the money we have." Last year, BTV received $17,000 in funding, according to the October 18, 2011 Justice article.
According to BTV Marketing Manager Giselle Silberman '15, the board plans to produce Internet shorts, in addition to those that are already in production under the direction of current members. Hoffman also added that the club has been working on filming events on campus, such as the Bob Dylan forum.
The club's current constitution, which was adopted in 2004, states that its purposes are "To provide an arena for the members of the BTV community to pursue their personal, educational and ideological growth ... To create an organization based on leadership, cooperation, trust, education, and respect ... To provide individuals an environment to advance their knowledge of television within the Brandeis community ... To deliver original, member-produced programming to the Brandeis Community through various multimedia outlets."
The Student Union granted Brandeis Television seccured club status in 2002. In a November 5, 2002 Justice article, the club was described as a 24-hour cable television network, using funds to feature two original series, purchase equipment and present these projects to the Brandeis community.
According to Israel, should a club stray from its original intent, F-Board does not have the authority to take action. "We do not overstep our bounds in the Union. We're a separate branch of the Union from the Senate, which is responsible for what happens when a club is no longer following its constitution," said Israel. "[I]f we notice that they're not following their constitution ... we are allowed to recommend them for review to the Senate."
The current board hopes to have a successful year, increasing both membership and productivity. "We are a new club. We're starting from the ground up," said Roseman. "All of the board is new, and we're all sophomores, so I just kind of want to tell everyone to be aware of that, because although we have the same name, we aren't the same people."