The Student Assembly made strides to provide private, online subscriptions to The New York Times for Cornell students at its meeting Thursday in the Plant Sciences Building. Cornell students will have access to their online Times subscriptions this November.
Cornell currently has a contract with the Collegiate Readership Program, which provides physical copies of USA Today and The New York Times to various newspaper stations on campus. However, the S.A. voted against renewing that contract, opting instead to pursue the online alternative.
Samantha Romero Zavala ’19 and Paul Monaghan ’18, speaking on behalf of the S.A. Appropriations Committee, defended the choice to transition from print to web.
“Not only is this resolution fiscally responsible and fiscally effective, but also by implementing the online subscription, you ensure that more people have access to it,” Romero Zavala said. “There’s more of a chance of people having access to the Internet on campus than going to places that are not very accessible.”
The two noted that only 33 percent of The Times’ print copies are picked up by students, according to the paper. Moving to an online subscription with the paper would reduce the cost per student from five dollars with Collegiate Readership to just under three dollars, allowing funds to be allocated to other campus purposes.
“In 2012 to 2013, 150,000 papers were consumed annually by Cornell, whereas in the last fiscal year, only 56,000 print newspapers were consumed,” Monaghan said. “We’re basically trying to anticipate the trend that print newspapers are going away, and we want to try to provide a universal platform for undergraduate Cornell students by having this New York Times online subscription.”
Some members raised concerns about the availability of other newspapers, such as ones without The Times’ “liberal bias.” Monaghan responded by saying that the newly freed funds could be used for subscriptions to other papers.
“One of the benefits of not going with the Collegiate Readership Program and opting instead to just do the online subscription with The New York Times is that it would only be $2.86 per person,” he said. “That surplus, between the $5 and $2.86, could be used towards a Wall Street Journal online subscription. It basically opens the doors to looking into different newspapers and online subscriptions.”
Responding to concerns about the decline of print media, Julia Montejo ’17, minority liaison at large, defended the resolution as both environmentally and fiscally sound.
“I’m a literature major in the Spanish department — I love print media, and I’m very passionate about print media,” Montejo said. “However, in terms of supporting industries like newspapers, this is a very good step because we’re directly buying from the newspapers.”
Montejo also said the switch would disincentivize students who read The Times online from opening new browsers to circumvent the paper’s 10-articles-per-month limit.
“This keeps students who usually would read online, which is a larger proportion of the student body than the proportion who does pick up print copies, from just doing things like clicking through to incognito windows to do so without actually paying these amazing journalists and editors,” she said.
The resolution to move to the online subscription passed with 22 members in favor and no members opposing or abstaining.
The assembly also passed resolutions 13 and 15. Resolution 13 amended Article III Section 3 and other sections of the S.A. Charter, as approved by President Rawlings, and was passed with 19 in favor and no one opposing or abstaining.
Justin Selig ’17, College of Engineering representative, and Alex Iglesias ’17, College of Human Ecology representative, helped to present Resolution 15, which would allow the Residential Student Congress to collaborate with the assembly to directly bring resolutions concerning residential life to the S.A. floor. The motion intends to foster a closer legislative relationship between the Assembly and the RSC.
Dale Barbaria ’19, parliamentarian, raised concerns about the resolution and its implications for the assembly’s legislative process.
“I would like everyone to realize that this is significantly changing how resolutions can be passed, and if it is not done appropriately, it could set a dangerous precedent by allowing different groups to bring resolutions to the floor,” Barbaria said.
Barbaria’s concerns are based on the control that the S.A. maintains over all resolutions introduced before the S.A., and how Resolution 15 could change that process.
“This is the one way that resolutions can get on the floor of the Assembly without going through any organization, groups, or individuals that are overseen by or are members of the assembly,” he said. “Just keep that in mind while voting, that this is changing the way we work.”
Despite these reservations, Resolution 15 was passed by 21 members, with none opposing, and one member abstaining.
Finally, Miranda Kasher ’19, women’s issues representative at large, detailed the new design concepts to remodel the outdoor area outside of the Schwartz Center. Designs will be finished in November, and final construction will begin and end during the summer of 2017, according to Kasher.