By Emily Leayman
Student Government Board has cut the USA Today Collegiate Readership Program from $22,000 to $10,000, with only the New York Times and USA Today remaining in the Academic Forum and McFarland Student Union.
One major change is the disappearance of newspapers in all but two buildings, according to Matt Assad, SGB’s treasurer. Newspapers used to be available in buildings where faculty would pick them up, such as Old Main, Sharadin and Boehm. Assad said this decision resulted partly from SGB’s desire to have the newspapers only in “student-dominant” buildings: the MSU and AF.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is no longer available after an analysis last year showed people only used 10 percent of them per day. The New York Times, however, averaged about 150 to 200 newspapers picked up per day and USA Today averaged 100 to 150. Assad said the Reading Eagle hoped to participate in the Readership Program in the past, but the price was too steep.
“It’s been a declining program for the past couple of years,” said Assad, noting that many students go online for news today.
Financial reasons played a part, too. According to Assad, the $10,000 cut from the Readership program did not transfer to anything else. He said that SGB needed to make cuts due to a decline in enrollment. The student activity fee, which pays for student organizations and programs like the USA Today program, went up only $1 from last year’s $121 to this year’s $122.
So far Assad did not receive any feedback from students. He has received a response from one faculty office, asking what happened to the newspapers and if they would return.
“It is a paper that is paid [for] by the students,” he said. “Wherever the students go, the paper should go too.”
Assad said his committee on SGB had worked on a way to keep the program. The Readership Program is based on a yearly contract, so SGB reassesses it every year based on average numbers of newspapers picked up daily.
“I’m hoping with the restructuring of the program, it can continue to go on,” Assad said.
Because SGB noticed many students receiving their news online, the possibility of digital subscriptions came up in the past. Assad wants to bring this up this year after researching if digital subscriptions could be given to the student body and if they would be affordable.