Over the last few weeks, Colgate students have been loudly lamenting the loss of a key connector to the outside world, The New York Times. After having free access to the paper for the past three years, students must now pay for their own subscription to the Times.
Some students feel no loss from not having what first-year Austin Schwartz called the “biased news source” at their fingertips, while others are appalled that a liberal arts university like Colgate would not offer free access to the newspaper.
Director of Residential Life and Assistant Dean of the College Jennifer Adams was the person in charge of bringing the Times to Colgate ever since she began working at the university four years ago. She signed up Colgate to be a part of The New York Times Readership Program, which delivers around 300 papers daily to school at the discounted price of 40 cents per issue. The program also provides Colgate with a Times journalist speaker and a faculty workshop.
“The New York Times is a great company to work with and its readership program is really beneficial to the school, but the yearly cost is $15,000 and that is a lot of unbudgeted money to come up with,” Adams said.
For the past three years, Adams has been acquiring the money from different offices on campus; last year the money was provided by Residential Life, the Center for Leadership & Student Involvement (CLSI) and the Deans’ Office.
However, Adams could not find adequate funding for the program this year.
“I knew the students would be disappointed that the paper was no longer publicly available to them, but unfortunately, the program is not funded by a student initiative group, but rather by the University budget committee, so SGA or the BAC did not have the final say,” Adams explained.
In order to again take part in the Times’ readership program, Adams said that she needs to be able to definitively convey to the University that students benefit from having a newspaper available to them.
“In order to get a permanent budget in place for the Times I would need to acquire some hard facts, such as a survey of students that can show how many of them read it and if they believe they profit from doing so,” Adams said.
Ever since the budget for the Times was not approved Adams has been looking for new sources of money outside of the on-campus community. She has been considering talking to alumni, since the readership program could be used as a donation opportunity.
“If alums can donate money for a new building, why not for our newspaper as well?” sophomore Dave Eng said. “Reading the paper is definitely a learning advantage. I can take a science class in the new Ho building, but I can’t come to that class aware of current events because I didn’t get to read the Science Times on Tuesday.”
The disappearance of the Times from campus created such uproar among students that the call to bring it back reached Student Government Association (SGA) and became a resolution that Senators voted on at the Senate meeting on September 25.
The “Campus-Wide New York Times Restoration Resolution” was passed after a three versus three debate that ended up being a three versus two debate since only two people — senior Liddy Kang and first-year Austin Schwartz — could be found who were against it.
Those students who opposed a restoration of the paper were not entirely against bringing the Times back, but preferred that it be accompanied by the public delivery of another paper. One opponent asked that the student body advocate the availability of diverse points of view and not solely support The New York Times, which they said has developed into a more liberal paper in recent years.
Student Body President senior Rob Sobelman explained that The New York Times is one of the only papers that provides such a reduced-cost readership program; The Wall Street Journal does not offer any sort of readership program to colleges and universities. The resolution was passed with an overwhelming majority of the Senate after officers advocated for the paper’s return because of its usefulness in the classroom and its aid in keeping students informed and focused on the world beyond Colgate.
According to Adams, the movement for the return of the paper may ease the process of funding its return.
“It is easier to take money that would otherwise be allotted to different on-campus groups when we know that the students would rather have it go toward something else, such as The New York Times fund,” Adams said.