Imagine walking into your residential college dining hall and seeing multiple copies of the following three newspapers before you: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. They sit there — free of charge — waiting to be read.
If the Yale administration would agree to a six-week, cost-free and zero-obligation trial of the Newspaper Readership Program, this vision would become a reality. Founded in 1997, the NRP has caught the interest of over 300 colleges in its four-year tenure, including Stanford, Brown, the University of Pennsylvania, and Northwestern. The NRP aims at enhancing the campus learning environment by giving students an opportunity to be more informed about the local, national and international events that shape their lives. The need for an active dialogue — of the kind newspapers foster through classroom discussions and at the dining hall table — is greater now than ever before.
Yet, despite meetings with Yale President Richard Levin and a unanimously passed Yale College Council resolution on Dec. 2 — almost two months ago — asking that “the Yale University administration permit the Newspaper Readership Pilot Program to commence,” no action has been taken.
In addition to generously offering us a free six-week pilot program — the usual duration is four weeks — the NRP coordinates on-campus surveys both before and after the trial period to measure changes in student readership habits, provides free newspaper displays in each college, and manages the recycling efforts of the newspapers it distributes, including the daily removal of all unused papers remaining in NRP displays.
How much would the NRP cost per year once the six-week trial period expires? The answer to this question is around $25,000-$30,000, or about $4.81-$5.77 per Yale College student per year, which would pay for the delivery of 60 papers to each residential college and Commons every day. Furthermore, one of the beauties of the NRP is that you only pay for what you read. Thus, if during the pilot program students are reading 60 percent New York Times, 30 percent Wall Street Journals and 10 percent USA Todays, 36 New York Times, 18 Wall Street Journals and six USA Todays would be dropped off in your dining halls daily. Undergraduates’ newspaper readership habits are monitored by the NRP on a monthly basis, ensuring that the percentage of the three newspapers students are reading remains on target.
While paying for the NRP is inevitably one of the administration’s primary concerns, the cost of the program could be covered, in whole or in part, by many sources, namely the President’s Office, the Office of New Haven and State Affairs, and the Council of Masters. In addition, the Graduate School is interested in jointly pursuing the NRP and would be able to contribute funds toward this endeavor.
Exact details can be worked out later. After all, students may not show interest in the NRP, demonstrating that there is no need for such a program at Yale. But my point is this: Let the students decide.
Sure, studies may show that those who read newspapers on a daily basis improve their reading comprehension, analytical skills, vocabulary and general knowledge, but newspapers also serve as a source of relaxation for Yalies. Who doesn’t enjoy the wide-ranging comics and full sports coverage provided by the biggest and best newspapers in the world?
Lastly, the University must realize that many of its students live within tight budgets, making the prospect of purchasing a yearly newspaper subscription unaffordable. With this new program, students can remain on top of the news and save themselves from financial stress. The time for the Yale administration to support the Newspaper Readership Program is now.
Andrew Klaber is a sophomore in Trumbull College. He is a Yale College Council representative.