For five years now Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University quit funding its students newspapers. According to the official clarification the absence of funds was the reason but unofficial versions sound different and are related to the will of the University for meddling into the editorial policy.
According to Archil Kaikatsishvili, founder of the TSU Times newspaper the edition is the only youth paper at the Tbilisi State University which enjoys high popularity among students and the academic personnel with its periodicity and the topics covered.
"The TSU Times was founded in April 2008 by the people who used to publish the Young Lawyer newspaper at the faculty of law, but the new edition has gone beyond university-related topics now covering public-political issues too," Archil Kaikatsishvili said.
According to his affirmation the TSU students self-governance body, previously funding the Young Lawyer approved the new edition and showed will to cooperate. In 2008 the agreement between the editorial office and the students self-governance was concluded. In line with the agreement the self-governance body was to fund the newspaper as a university youth project, the editorial office on its side would maintain its editorial independence.
"In 2009 the TSU Times resumed publishing in an usual form. In April and May the newspaper covered the protest rallies held in Tbilisi, published the viewpoints by the leaders of the opposition youth wing, offered the readers its stance on limiting political processes to legal framework," Archil Kaikatsishvili reported.
The final 1st term 2009 edition of the newspaper was scheduled to be issued in June. But according to the editor in May he was visiting the Caucasus Institute in Turkey and having arrived he learnt the funding of TSU newspapers and magazines was cut.
According to Kaikatsishvili a new statute of the TSU PR service shall be endorsed. The new statute is to regulated the relations of the University with other students newspapers and magazines. These editions shall be subject to the TSU PR service and the topics shall be agreed with them.
The absence of funds and recent multiplity of students editions is named as a reason of closure of publications. According to Irakli Megrelishvili, assistant to the head of the TSU administration the university now issues five newspapers and the applications have been made for four more. Hence the funding of nine editions will be hard therefore the students self-governance is going to announce a contest to select the best projects.
"Since the university has no need for nine newspapers the students self-governance is to announce the contest. The University has got its own newspaper which covers all the topics. Politics should be covered too but the university faces far more problems and writing about it is preferable," Irakli Megrelishvili pointed out.
If anybody wants to publish the newspaper independently, he said, one can rise funds but the newspaper issued through the University funds should meet specific standards.
The contest, University staff said, will be announced late in November.
The TSU Times staff considers the termination of funding was incited due to the topics of the publications since they responded to the protest rallies. The University management disliked it.
The TSU Times carried on its activities via the Internet (http://young-lawyer.ucoz.com/) since October 1. But the newspaper, upon the common decision by the editorial staff, is planning to take part in the contest to be announced.
According to Kaikatsishvili the University enjoys a full right to fund the editions which meet the University standards but from his point of view in case there is a high-rating university edition with its readers, established relations, and the topics acceptable and interesting to every student then its disregard is inadmissible.
"We are going to take part in the contest at least to find out how fairly it will be held," Kaikatsishvili said.