By: Alyson Peabody, Editor-in-Chief
Though our name lines the top edges, The Free Press does not own the kiosks that house our newspapers on campus. Recent concern from USM community members called attention to what appears to be the student newspaper endorsing ABBA, A Woman’s Resource Center.
Students passing by Luther Bonney may have seen a poster on kiosk outside showing a distressed woman staring down with the words, “Think you might be pregnant?” looming over her head. The center provides free pregnancy testing and limited STI screening. According to their website, they “do not perform abortions, provide referrals or cost estimates for abortion procedures, the abortion pill, or arrange adoptions.”
Whatever the views held by members of The Free Press staff, I would like to formally state that we at The Free Press do not endorse or receive funding from any advertisers who display their ads on the sides of the kiosks. Regardless of personal values, all organizations who pay to display ads are protected by First Amendment rights. Our advertising appears in the pages of The Free Press and as banner ads on our website. Anything outside of this is not in our control.
Upon further investigation, we found a contract the UMaine System (UMS) signed with Signal Contracting LLC on June 3, 2016. The contract stipulates that “any kiosks produced in performance of this agreement will remain the property of [the] Contractor.” This means that the Contractor, Signal Contracting, determines what advertisements appear on the side of the kiosks after ruling out prohibited content.
The prohibited content based on the rules of the contract are as follows: Alcohol, tobacco, vapors, electronic or any other smoking-related products, gambling, drug or drug paraphernalia, profanity, and weapons. No ad that is discriminatory against race, gender, age, religion, physical ability, or sexual orientation, and sexually explicit materials.
The contract states that the UMS has a revenue-sharing structure whereby the Contractor compensates the University with a portion of the advertising sales of no less than $27,000 total revenue over the span of five years. The Free Press receives $75 per kiosk per month from the national advertising entity to maintain. This money is a partnered agreement, not an endorsement.
Based on the contract, unsold space on the kiosk is used for posters promoting The Free Press.
This contract ends on August 12, 2021.