For the students who rejoiced last semester when The New York Times started daily paper delivery to Binghamton University as part of their College Readership Program, the joy was short-lived. This semester has seen the disappearance of the stacks of newspapers that used to be scattered throughout dining halls, the Union and Lecture Hall last year.
The University was able to take part in an eight-week trial of the College Readership Program, which provides discounted delivery of the newspaper to college campuses across the country, because the Student Association coordinated with campus organizations to raise the necessary funds. This year, though, the SA has cut the program.
When the program was brought here last year, we were late to the party: we were one of the few upper-tier universities in the state not to have the program. Now, we’ve been kicked out of the party — and we think a major disservice has been done to the student population as a result.
The Readership Program provided easy and indeed, almost unavoidable, access to a high-quality paper. It reconnected readers who couldn’t previously get a copy while on campus, and attracted new readers who would pick it up to kill time between class.
In an era when our time is more likely to be spent on Reddit than Reuters, providing college kids with a resource like the Times should be paramount, not relegated to the sidelines. The way we see it, getting the Readership Program back is an institutional mandate: we have before us the opportunity to supplement our education for a relatively negligible cost — surely there is money to fund it somewhere out there.
The SA has been working on rounding up funds from sources like Sodexo and the Dean of Students, and we appreciate its efforts. At the same time, the burden for finding funding shouldn’t rest with the SA alone. We encourage the University itself to take a more proactive role in the process; any school should jump at the opportunity to improve and expand its students’ learning experience.
Really, there’s a pretty simple solution. There are a bunch of small service fees included in our tuition, from the $7 transportation fee to the $5 academic record fee. We don’t think twice about those fees; we’re more concerned about accruing dorm hall damage or lost ID fees.
Why not tack on a small charge, either as its own separate fee or as an addition to an existing fee, that will allow us to bring the Times back to Binghamton’s campus? The cost will be minuscule — it need not be more than $1 per student — but the yield enormous.
Beyond the direct benefits provided to frequent readers of the paper, the mere presence of the paper on campus is uplifting — half of being the “premier public university of the Northeast” is feeling like it. Who doesn’t feel at least a little bit smarter with that day’s issue of The New York Times under their arm? Student culture is at least partially reflective of its surrounding environment, and an improved student culture will mean only good things for the school’s reputation.
We sincerely hope the SA finds a way to bring back the Readership Program. Failure to get it back would be a sad indication of the school’s priorities.