Susan Uhrquhart believes that reading newspapers is important for all college students.
At a Yale College Council meeting Wednesday night, Uhrquhart, a manager for national education sales at USA Today, presented information about the Collegiate Readership Program, an initiative that aims to provide students on college campuses access to weekday editions of national and local newspapers.
The program was established in 1997 at Penn State, and roughly 160 universities are now participating. Uhrquhart said she is hoping to add Yale to that list.
If instituted at Yale, the program would provide papers in residential college dining halls and Commons for about $10 per student per semester. At some schools, the cost is included in room and board, while at others the administration and other sources provide funding.
Andrew Klaber ’03, a Trumbull College YCC representative, said he sees the variety of publications that would be accessible to students as the main benefit of the program.
“In light of Sept. 11, it is important to get different perspectives to establish a better dialogue on campus,” he added.
Klaber said he contacted USA Today and suggested the program to the YCC after visiting friends at Northwestern University last spring. Klaber said he noticed racks of publications in student dormitories.
“I said, ‘Wow, look at all these newspapers!'” Klaber said.
USA Today sent Uhrquhart and Jeannette Freda, education sales manager for the New York and Connecticut region, to discuss the initiative with Yale students.
“The program is designed around your wants and needs. You can take what [newspapers] you want on any given day,” Freda said.
Typically, the program starts off with a free pilot stage, which lasts for four to six weeks. During this time, administrators work closely with representatives from USA Today to gauge which publications are most popular among students and to see whether students are actually reading the papers, Uhrquhart said.
After this period, if a college chooses to adopt and fund the initiative, containers that could hold 20 copies each of three papers would be placed in dining halls. To limit the readership of these papers to students, each box would only open when a reader swiped an ID card in it.
Although Uhrquhart cited statistics showing the program’s effectiveness on other college campuses in promoting student readership of local and national papers, some YCC members were not convinced the program was suitable for Yale College.
YCC President Vidhya Prabhakaran ’03 said the initiative might work but “with a tweak.”
Because of the low number of copies of each publication available to students, there will not be enough newspapers to accommodate student interest, Prabhakaran said.
“My main concern is that people will take the papers. By lunch, they would be gone,” Prabhakaran said.
Still, most YCC members agree that the program would have positive effects on students at Yale.
“Personally, I would appreciate having the papers,” Silliman College representative Anna Pelczer ’05 said. Pelczer added that the first e-mail she reads every day is from The New York Times.
In the following weeks, the YCC will be discussing the proposal and working closely with Freda to decide whether to try this program in the spring semester.