For avid news junkies at Yale, leafing through The New York Times while eating at the dining hall might eventually be a thing of the past.
In response to a request from the President’s Office to gauge student interest in reading the print version of the Times on campus, Yale College Council representatives polled themselves in an informal meeting Sunday and found that less than half the Council reads the paper regularly, YCC President Jon Wu said. The Council’s board in turn came up with a list of possible ideas about how the President’s Office — which pays for the newspapers — could cut costs by reducing subscriptions. Interviews with 50 students corroborated the YCC’s findings, indicating that student interest in the print version of the New York Times remains moderate at best.
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The YCC vote showed that 10 out of the 28 representatives present at the meeting read The New York Times in print at least three times a week, Wu said.
While the vote surveyed only a small fraction of the student body, YCC Vice President Abigail Cheung ’11 said the Council was pressed for time since it received the request from the President’s Office on Friday and had to conduct the survey over the weekend.
“Students are elected to YCC as representatives of their colleges and of the student body,” Cheung added.
As a result of the vote, Wu said the YCC came up with three informal recommendations, aimed at cutting the University’s print subscriptions. First, the YCC suggested that the President’s Office cut the number of papers to one-third of its current number delivered each weekday. If this recommendation is rejected, the second solution is to deliver the Times only on Sunday, which Wu said would be a good idea in part because the News does not publish on Sundays. The last solution, which Wu called the “worst-case scenario,” would be for the University to provide the student body with online subscriptions to the Times when the paper begins charging a fee for its Web content in January 2011. Wu said the YCC has not yet considered the logistics of this last option.
“I’m assuming, at the very least, [University President Richard] Levin will find a way to provide online subscriptions,” Wu said.
Nina Glickson, assistant to the president, confirmed to the News that the President’s Office is evaluating Yale’s subscriptions to The New York Times but did not respond to further requests for comment. Levin, who is in Switzerland this week, was not available for comment.
Of 50 students interviewed by the News, only six said they read print copies of The New York Times provided in dining halls at least three times a week, while 19 said they read it regularly but fewer than three times a week. Twenty-five students said they do not read the Times regularly.
In addition, 33 of the 50 students interviewed said they would not be affected if The New York Times subscription were to be canceled due to budget restrictions, and three students said they would prefer to receive print subscriptions to newspapers other than The New York Times, including the New York Post and the Los Angeles Times.
While Courtney Fukuda ’12 said she would not mind losing the print subscription to the Times if Yale agreed to pay for online access for students, other students said they do not think the administration should cancel the subscription. Six students said they read The New York Times exclusively in print and would not go online to read it if print subscriptions were canceled.
“You can get it online, but it’s not the same,” Annika Lee ’10.
Several students said while they do not read The New York Times regularly, they do not like the idea of canceling the newspaper subscription altogether.
“It’d be a sign,” Julian Reid ’13 said. “They [would be] restricting our access to knowledge.”
Wu said he does not know if or when the YCC recommendations might be implemented, and that the decision is ultimately up to Levin.