ASNMU brings back Readership Program

NW Staff

On Tuesday, March 25, ASNMU brought the Collegiate Readership Program back to Northern for a second trial run.

The pilot will last through April 8, and will be provided to the student body by USA Today free of cost, said Neal Glatt, ASNMU college of business representative and chairman for the Readership Program Committee.

Northern students voted on this policy in 2006, however, it was voted down, Glatt said. ASNMU brought the survey back because they felt the wording on that voting referendum was confusing.

On April 8, students will have a second chance to vote on whether to make this program permanent. If passed, there will be a $5.76 increase to the Student Activity Fee, Glatt said.

This fee will fund 350 copies a day of USA Today and 350 copies a day of The New York Times.

“However, as funding fluctuates with enrollment, the numbers of newspapers avalaible can increase or decrease accordingly with each year,” said Heidi Zimmerman, director of communications for USA Today.

“It is also important to note that the school will only pay for the newspapers picked up,” she added.

If the program is made permanent, USA?Today will also only allow students to take the newspapers.

“During the trial-basis, anyone can take the papers,” Glatt said. “Although intended for students, they will be placed on open wire racks at several locations through campus, making enforcement near impossible.”

If made permanent, the program will provide papers Monday through Friday in custom-made dispensers, Glatt said. In order to get the papers from the holders, students will have to insert their Wildcat Express Card into a card reader on the machine. That way, only those whose money is going toward the papers will be able to take them.

Student reaction to the program and its cost is varied.

“I think it’s a pretty good program,” said sophomore Mark Bullion, an electronic journalism and speech communication major. “Increasing student awareness with an almost invisible fee is a benefit to the student population.”

On the other hand, students have voiced their concerns about the increase in the Student Activity Fee.

“The New York Times is free online. I just think that this money could be used for better things,” said Shannon Armstrong, NMU alumna.

Others agree that although the program works well in theory, it costs too much.

“I think it’s a good idea,” said Katie Grzesiak, a junior biology major. “However, $5.76 is an awful lot per person.”

Another concern students have voiced to ASNMU is the recycling of the newspapers.

“As part of the Collegiate Readership Program recycling bins will be placed next to the newspaper displays to encourage recycling of the newspapers,” said Zimmerman.?”USA Today handles the delivery of the newspapers and will also remove the newspapers for recycling at an off campus location … Any remaining newspapers will be hauled off campus for recycling and the school will not be charged for them.”

At NMU, the hope is that placing the distribution centers in high traffic areas on campus will encourage students to place the papers in the bins, said Keith Voorheis, a member of the Readership committee and ASNMU arts and science representative.

“Our hope is that students will take the papers, and then return them to the centers,” he said.

Developed in 1997 by Penn State University President Graham Spanner, the program was created as a way to ensure that students were “exposed to the world beyond the bricks and mortar of the campus,” according to USA Today.

USA Today has partnered with more than 300 local and national newspapers to bring this program to campuses nationwide. Each has the option of choosing up to three newspapers for distribution, most often consisting of USA Today plus one local and one regional publication.

“No matter what students believe about this program, it is important that they go and vote on April 8 at asnmu.nmu.edu,” Glatt said. “This is a great opportunity for Northern, and students should convey their opinions about it.”