Over the summer, the executive board of the Student Government Association voted to end the Collegiate Readership Program by dropping USA Today from newsstands on campus. The decision allowed roughly $21,000 to be used for other SGA sponsored programs.
The program was put on through Gannett Publishing, a part of USA Today, and is used on campuses nationwide to provide newspapers for students. Until the Fall 2015 semester, USA Today, The Kansas City Star and The St. Joseph News-Press were provided on campus through the program, free of charge to pick up. As of this semester, USA Today will no longer be offered and new deals were made to keep The Star and News-Press on campus.
The program charged SGA based on the number of papers taken from the bins, which required a student ID card to access, and had the potential to cost up to $30,000 a year. While last year’s actual cost was only $20,000, SGA voted the previous semester to budget the full $30,000 in the case that the maximum amount of papers would be taken.
Last April, SGA voted to budget only $20,000 for this year, based on the low number of issues being taken by students and faculty. However, during the summer break, the executive board decided to explore their options, and found that they could save a lot of money by excluding the national paper.
On Monday, Sept. 14, SGA unanimously voted to officially lower the budget to $9,500, though they expect the program to only cost $9,000.
Administrative Coordinator for SGA Jessica Frogge, who is in charge of the program, agrees with the executive board’s decision and said that USA Today was costing too much to be worth it for the students.
“‘I think that they were really being conscientious of student’s money and made a very positive decision,” Frogge said.
According to Frogge, USA Today was the least picked up paper.
SGA President Ida Haefner said that the new system will benefit the students directly, which was a major goal for her and Vice President Brad Stanton.
“I’m glad that we have some money to play around with,” Haefner said. “The $21,000 going back to students is something Brad and I have wanted, we wanted more of our budget to go towards students.”
According to Haefner, the money saved will be divided into the following budgets:
- $10,000 to the Financial Oversight Committee
- $5,000 to Special Projects
- $2,500 to the Presidents Leadership Council
- $3,500+ to Transit
The Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) provides money for students to go to conferences and competitions, and will soon be taking over co-sponsorship for student organizations, which has been handled by Western Activities Council in the past.
Special Projects provides financing for unique needs, such as rally towels, equipment for departments and the new basketball courts near the Commons.
The Presidents Leadership Council (PLC) will use the extra money to provide food for the organization presidents who attend the required meetings.
Any remaining money will go into financing the new St. Joseph Transit deal, which provides free bus rides to students, faculty and staff.
Haefner also said that the Collegiate Readership Program had other problems aside from being too expensive.
According to Haefner, many of the card readers on the paper bins were defective, which allowed anyone to take a free newspaper, and there were trust issues with the carriers. Alleged false reporting on the numbers of issues being picked up was costing money that wasn’t really owed.
“What was happening is their counters were coming back and saying that we had used all 26 papers, or however many it was, when we hadn’t,” Haefner said.
The change means that there is no longer a national paper offered on campus, but SGA has decided to see how well the new program works out for Western. If a desire for a national paper is strong enough, and if a new budget can pass, a new system may be voted on in the spring that could bring in a national paper. However, for this semester at least, only the St. Joseph News-Press and the Kansas City Star will be provided by SGA.