Beginning Monday, Feb. 5 through Friday, March 2, the Collegiate Readership Program will be implemented at UR, providing students with a variety of newspapers, free of charge, in locations across campus.
“The Collegiate Readership Program is present on over 400 campuses nationwide,” Circulation Account Manager for USA Today Liz Rittling said. “The program is designed to provide a national, regional and local paper, which exposes students to the world around them.”
USA Today manages the program. UR will be provided with copies of USA Today, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and The New York Times. The papers will be delivered Monday through Friday mornings each week.
The Students’ Association and the Rochester Center for Community Leadership cosponsored the program, and support came from other offices such as Residential Life, Auxiliary Services, the Dean of Students, Security and the Student Activities Office.
The idea for the program’s arrival at UR came about last fall when Liz Rittling from USA Today contacted the Students’ Association President Alex Pearlman.
“The program started in 1997 at Penn State, and we found it really helps the students with their academics, as well with the process of becoming more engaged citizens,” Rittling said. “I thought it would be a great fit for the students at the University of Rochester not only because of the daily exposure to the news that they would be getting, but also the other academic resources that are available, like the free 24-hour Web site that has valuable information that is helpful to both students and faculty. The program overall promotes global awareness and brings both living and learning together on campuses.”
After a meeting and a formal presentation to representatives from various departments of the University, planning began on the program, the overarching goal being to provide news to students whenever and wherever they happen to be, as well as to appeal to the increasing diversity of the student population.
“Rochester students come from around the state, country and world, and their need and want for information on current events reflects this diversity,” Assistant Director for Operations for the Rochester Center for Community Leadership Bryan Rotach said. “The Collegiate Readership Program is one program available to us that can give students greater access to local, national and international news. During the pilot of this program we hope to find out how students use media to learn about the world around them so we can provide the services that best meet their needs.”
Representatives from USA Today will be on hand on both the first and last day of the four week pilot program to administer quick one minute surveys.
“The surveys that the USA Today staff will be administering, via electronic handhelds, will help us gauge how frequently and through what methods students are getting the news now and how they’d like to be able to get it in the future,” Rotach said. “That information, combined with daily circulation numbers and informal feedback, will give us a lot of information to evaluate the pilot program and make the best plans for the future.”
Timing was a crucial component to the implementation of the program, which is free both to students and to the college, and February seemed to be the optimal month for the trial run.
The program will run until March 2, which will give the coordinators time to determine the program’s overall success, as well as the individual newspapers’ and locations’ success. This time period of two weeks, the week leading up to Spring Break as well as Spring Break itself, will give the different offices of the college time to incorporate the program into their budgets for next year, if necessary.
“We hope that the experiment works, and that the students take advantage of having actual, as opposed to just online, newspapers,” Vice President for Communications Bill Murphy said. “They offer the opportunity to browse and read the paper in a different way than one can online.”
There will most likely be a few key stake-holders, such as the Student Activities Office, the Dean’s Office, ResLife and the President’s office. In addition, if the program is continued, the papers will remain free of charge to students.
The eight different locations to have copies of the newspapers were chosen in order to optimize student accessibility. Two locations in Wilson Commons, on the first and second floors, as well as Douglass Dining Center and IT Center will have copies available, as they are places many students frequent. Five different residence halls will also feature the program as well: Susan B. Anthony Hall, Anderson and Wilder Towers, Gale House and deKiewiet Tower, all located on the first floor lobby.
“I think that students are more likely to absorb news when they have it physically there in front of them,” Pearlman said. “I believe the program will enhance the discourse on campus and make it so that campus is less in a bubble – it will promote awareness of current events and the world beyond Rochester.”
Halusic is a member of the class of 2010.