LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Student journalism could be on the chopping block at UNLV if the 30,000-person student body does not bear the burden of paying to keep it alive.

UNLV students have depended on the Scarlet & Gray Free Press for their campus news since its first edition in 1955. But, in recent times, current Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Booth said funding woes have lingered over the staff that continuously decreased in size.

“We’re supposed to have assistant news editors, assistant opinion editors. Those positions have essentially been put on hold because of funding,” Booth said at her desk on the third floor of the UNLV student union Tuesday morning.

Then, more woes this January: The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which once printed the Scarlet & Gray daily paper for free along with other funding, pulled out. Booth said the newspaper told them that “they would like to see more buy-in from the university community” amidst inflating costs of printing.

RJ did not respond to 8 News Now’s request for comment by Tuesday evening, though Booth said they maintain an outside advisor for the Scarlet & Gray from the RJ.

Other funding sources, the graduating senior said, are primarily through the UNLV Student Life Funding Committee which other campus organizations compete for each year. Both sources together once created an annual operating budget of between $60,000 to $80,000.

But as competition grows and funding fades, maintaining a full staff, fixing broken printers and upkeeping an online presence have become next to impossible, Booth said. She and the rest of the staff were forced to create a new funding solution.

Thus, the student-run paper introduced a proposal that could impact every student attending UNLV starting Fall 2023: a 20 cent-per-unit, per student fee that would generate roughly $140,000 for the Scarlett & Gray. Booth said this equates to $3 or less per undergraduate and $2 or less per graduate each semester.

“With the fee passing, essentially what it would mean for us is that we can resume business as usual, not have to stress and instead focus more on reporting on student issues and events happening on campus,” Booth said.

The Board of Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education will meet on Friday to discuss the proposal. It comes with endorsements from the UNLV student government, the UNLV President, the Vice President of Student Affairs and the provost.

If the board does not approve, it could mean the Scarlet & Gray will turn into a digital-only operation or, in the worst-case scenario, cease operations altogether.

“Student journalists shouldn’t have to worry about if they’re going to exist next year,” Booth said. “If the fee doesn’t pass, I can’t say definitively that there will be a student newspaper, and it’s like, 70 years’ worth of student news? That’s a little scary to think about.”

When students outside the newspaper were confronted on the potential increase to their tuition, reactions were mixed.

“I didn’t know there was a newspaper and I really wouldn’t be using it, so why would I pay for it?” UNLV freshman Jennifer Sosa said.

“I mean, (the university puts) unnecessary fees all the time. This fee is actually necessary. So, 3 dollars wouldn’t hurt me,” UNLV sophomore Angeleque Johnson said.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at noon Friday on the second floor of the student union. The related agenda indicated it could begin as early as 11:00 am, however, so Booth is asking supporters to arrive to provide public comment on approving the proposed fee at that time.