Though the beginning of this Fall Term brings a large addition to the student body, it also brings a farewell to a large quantity of newspapers. For almost ten years, Lawrence has been part of the USA Today Readership Program that provided USA Today, The New York Times and The Appleton Post–Crescent to all dorms on campus. This year, Lawrence chose not to participate.
Nancy Truesdell, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, explains that this decision was largely based on the budget.
“Budgets have been looked at across the board to see where we can get the most bang for our buck and the Readership Program was something that students were not really benefiting from,” began Truesdell.
The Readership Program cost Lawrence University around $10,000 a year.
“The numbers of papers being used a day averaged around 30 for the entire campus,” explained Truesdell.
As a result, LUCC’s Campus Life Committee met with Student Welfare Committee for student feedback.
“Student Welfare agreed that it was an expensive program and even some of the environmental groups on campus didn’t think it was a good use of paper. All of that together made us realize that it was okay to drop the program,” said Truesdell.
Due to the Readership Program’s guidelines, Lawrence could not buy a smaller subscription that would only be offered in Warch Campus Center.
“The program likes [the newspapers] in residence halls so only the students, whose college pays for them, have access to them. In the campus center anyone can just take them off the rack,” said Truesdell.
Numbers aside, some students feel the loss of the program.
“Personally, I read [The New York Times] everyday but I can imagine that the number of students in total who read it was not enough to keep it around,” said junior Ilan Blanck.
Louis Weissert, a freshman who never got to experience the accessible newspapers, is also disappointed:
“I think it is a great attribute to any campus to have nationally recognized publications right there and for the students personal enrichment.”
Rose Wasielewski, Assistant Dean of Students for Campus Life, explians the removal of the program by explaining how students can work with the loss.
“Students are able to access information in different ways—through their laptops and smart phones. So the usability of newspapers is going away,” said Wasielewski.
Despite this, some students find that the internet does not seem to do the news justice.
“It is not really quite the same to read it online and to have the actual hard copy with you,” continued Weissert, “It is a more involved process—a totally different experience.”
Truesdell offers a solution to those students who wish to continue their devoted paper readership.
“Students can buy a subscription to The New York Times for a discounted price—$35 a term,” said Truesdall, “I have also encouraged Residence Hall Directors who run the activity fee [for their dorm] to buy subscriptions for their hall if they so choose.”
Although students have options, The Lawrentian is now the only free newspaper in print on campus.
“There’s a big hole left, “ concludes Blanck, “unless Nicholas Kristof is going to start writing for The Lawrentian.”