Don’t be surprised if shortly after Spring Break you see someone picking up a copy of the New York Times, USA Today or the Ithaca Journal without paying. Last night, the Student Assembly (S.A.) approved a four-week pilot program to offer those papers free to students in residential halls as well as Trillium dining and at the Straight.
The free trial period is part of the College Newspaper Readership Program, which currently sells papers at a discount rate in bulk to 185 colleges nationwide. The program is designed to encourage readership among college students; after four weeks, membership in the program is paid for by the student government or the administration.
“We get four weeks of free papers. Who can disagree with that?” asked Michael Moschella ’02, vice president for finance.
The program has attracted opponents among campus newspapers at the University of Louisiana at Layfette, Western Michigan University, Vanderbilt University and Pennsylvania State University, according to an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal. Papers at those schools have cited concerns about lost advertising revenue and decreased circulation because of the program.
“What we’re proposing is simply a pilot program,” said Robin Irwin, regional marketing manager for USA Today. “We have worked with other school papers and they have worked well with us.”
Representatives of The Sun attended at the meeting to express their concerns about the program.
The Daily Collegian, the student newspaper at Pennsylvania State University, reported a 9 percent drop in circulation following the implementation of the program, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Still unclear is what will happen when the pilot program ends and the free papers stop. When the S.A. debated this issue in November 2000, a representative from The New York Times estimated that the papers would cost $10 to $13 per student per semester.
He added that the University had told him that it would likely not fund the program.
“When something is given to you for free, it is harder for it to be taken away,” said Daniel Braun ’04, Arts & Sciences representative.
A permanent readership program would likely be funded by a combination of the student activity fee, the office of the Dean of Students and the office of Campus Life, according to Moschella.
The S.A. plans to measure the trial program’s success at its conclusion and then choose whether to begin paying for the complete program.
The S.A. also unanimously passed a resolution commending Travis Mayer ’05 and Hanna Hardaway ’03. Mayer won the silver medal in the men’s freestyle skiing competition and Hardaway came in fifth place in the women’s.
Esther Tang ’04, Hotel representative, announced that effective today, Ezra’s, the coffee and snack shop in Community Commons, would close due to a lack of student patronage.
Archived article by Peter Norlander