The World at Your Doorstep…For Free

The infamous Colgate “bubble” is about to be burst next Monday when the outside world pays a visit to Hamilton, New York via journalism. Next week the USA Today Readership Program will be introduced to the campus, offering free newspapers to desiring students.

Two newspapers will be available for selection: USA Today and The New York Times. They will be distributed free of charge in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop), Frank Dining Hall and West and Drake Residence Halls. Any student who wishes to get the latest headlines, flip through the funnies, peek at the personals or scan the sports section can simply pick a paper up off one of the complimentary distribution racks that the Readership Program provides.

“They’ll also have a half-page survey with about 10 to 12 questions on it that asks students their news reading habits,” Assistant Dean of the College Jennifer Adams said. “They’ll do that all day on Monday.”

The Readership Program is in its testing stage and is, for now, only temporary. Data will be collected based on the number of papers used by the students and their responses to the questionnaire. The information gathered will be used to ascertain whether the program should be continued. The testing phase ends when school lets out for spring recess on March 12.

“We’d really like people to take a couple minutes to fill [the surveys] out,” Adams said, “because what they will do on the last week of the trial period, the Wednesday before spring break, is redo the survey. Then, they’ll compare and let us know if students said they had: read the news more often, if they liked having the papers available and if they felt more knowledgeable about world issues.”

There are a number of ways the Colgate community could benefit from the distribution of free papers. For instance, students would have access to nationally acclaimed sources of news on a regular basis.

“Faculty would be able to use it for classes because they would know that all students are able to go pick up a paper,” Adams said. “The spirit of the program is supposed to be easy access for students – something you walk by and grab because we know students are usually on the move.”

Yet there were some concerns raised about the program. For example, would mass distribution of papers be environmentally friendly? The Readership Program has taken steps to ameliorate this worry.

“They will put a recycling box at each location, and then, in the morning when the newspaper delivery person comes to deliver the next day’s papers, they’ll take the papers for recycling,” Adams said.

While the program will come at no cost to the University during the trial period, the question of funding will arise if Colgate wishes to pursue the program later on.

“We’d have to explore that issue,” Adams said. “We would probably seek a number of sources [of funding] – some of it may come from the Dean of the College. If it’s something that faculty really like and want to use in their classes, we make look to academic departments, go to SGA or we may go to student organizations to ask for help.”

In order to provide as many papers as she can, Adams will try and find the funding in as many creative ways as possible.

If Colgate does invest in the Readership Program, it can diversify the availability of papers in terms of location and which newspapers will be distributed.

“They can only [distribute] two papers during the trial period, but there are other options available,” Adams said. “So, we could add a local paper [from] Utica or Syracuse.”Adams mentioned that the students she has worked with at Colgate are generally very news-savvy. She said that the Colgate environment ought to continue to promote these qualities.

“I think philosophically we have a commitment to provide students with access to world news,” Adams said. “This is another way to do that.”