Free campus newspaper program scrapped for cost

By Christina Piselli
November 7, 2002

Last year, free bundles of the New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer and USA Today were distributed in the resident halls for a trial period of four weeks. When the free trial program was over, an administrative decision was made not to continue providing the newspapers on campus.

David Carpenter, director of student life said, “The biggest stumbling block was cost. One department alone cannot absorb the cost. It is possible that if several departments came together as an entity to support the program that there would be available funding.”

The Collegiate Readership Program, managed by USA Today, ran a free pilot program last spring. The program started on March 12 and ended on April 11, 2002. The New York Times, USA Today and The Philadelphia Inquirer were delivered each weekday morning to displays located in the apartment complex, New Residence Hall, Woodcrest and house two.

The purpose of the program was to measure student interest and readership habits. The students were surveyed on the first day of the program and at the end of the four-week trial period. Quality Data Systems then tallied the results.

Of the 485 students participating in the pilot program, 31 percent took a newspaper each day and 87 percent believe that reading the newspaper is important to their education. Ninety-four percent prefer to get their newspapers from the residence halls and 95 percent of the students believe that the availability of newspapers, in the residence halls, would contribute to the habit of reading a newspaper on a regular basis.

Out of 128 students surveyed, 62 percent said they would be willing to pay an extra fee to continue having a selection of newspapers available Monday through Friday in the residence halls.

The cost of providing the newspapers would be approximately $10 per student, per semester. With 800 students residing on campus, the cost would be approximately $8,000 per semester. If the school were to charge the students for the availability of free newspapers, the cost would probably be added onto other fees, not tuition.

Dr. Richard Neville, vice president of student development, said that having the paper available on campus is a good idea. Neville proposed the idea of selling the paper in the Bookstore or Food Court, and said he would look into those possibilities.

Kevin Grady, a senior, said, “It would be more convenient for the students if the newspaper was sold somewhere on campus. I don’t think the students should be charged an extra fee to provide the paper. You should only be charged for the paper if you want it.”

Bridget Dougherty, manager of the bookstore, said, “Students have come in and asked for the newspaper. However, speaking from past experience at Rosemont, where I threw out a stack of newspapers everyday, I really don’t think it would be a good idea. If students are interested in pre-paying for the newspaper I will call and have them delivered to the Bookstore to be picked up by the student.”

Dr. Joseph Romano, professor of philosophy, said, “Newspapers are important because they help the students relate what they’re doing in class with what’s going on around them. It is helpful to be able to relate class discussions with contemporary events.”

To date, over 160 colleges and universities are participating in The Collegiate Readership Program.

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Christina Piselli

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