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Students embrace new Collegiate Readership Program

Rohan Anand | Thursday, August 31, 2006

Just three days after the Collegiate Readership Program started on campus, senior organizer Chris Harris was already witnessing positive responses from students.

“I overheard two students saying how they would have never known about the [Delta Air Lines] plane crash [without] seeing it in Monday’s edition of the New York Times in the dining hall,” he said. “They seem to really appreciate it.”

For Harris, this kind of feedback is especially helpful. Since early 2005, the former Senate Academic Affairs committee chair has been working with USA Today – which runs the program – to extend its business to the Notre Dame community.

When elected last spring, student body president Lizzi Shappell and vice president Bill Andrichik continued to promote the program, agreeing it would be an ideal investment for the students.

“We’re extremely pleased with the results from the launch last week,” Andrichik said.

The Collegiate Readership Program, which began at Pennsylvania State University in 1997, currently serves more than 400 schools nationwide to help students keep in touch with national and global news.

At Notre Dame, the daily program delivers 1,600 copies of the Chicago Tribune, New York Times and USA Today to both dining halls, LaFortune Student Center and one off-campus receptacle near the Joyce Center.

Many students said the program prevents them from living in the “Notre Dame bubble” and from becoming impervious to important news.

“It’s great because I don’t go off campus and I’m looking for different news every day,” junior Brian Chester said.

The program draws funds from a $15 increase in the Student Activity Fee, passed last fall in Senate and Campus Life Council under then-student body president Dave Baron and then-vice president Shappell. The measure was ultimately approved by Vice President for Student Affairs Father Mark Poorman.

But that hike hasn’t bothered students like junior Julie Campbell, who said she didn’t mind the increase “because it’s not too substantial that it hurts us in any way.”

While the program’s concept is appealing, many students said Notre Dame’s new system could use some additional “tweaking” to serve the market here more efficiently.

One problem, students said, has been getting a copy of the New York Times after noon, while the racks containing the other two publications stay relatively full throughout the day.

Senior Nicholas Coleman said he thought the situation could be easily resolved by dividing up the papers into sections.

“It’s really wasteful because people take [a] whole paper and only read one section and then dump the paper elsewhere,” he said.

Other students expressed concern about classmates who do not take the initiative to return the papers to their proper receptacles so that they can be re-read by other individuals.

“I think that when people realize how high the demand is for the more popular papers, they’ll discover the proper ways to make it more convenient for everybody,” sophomore Daniel Graciaa said.

Student government is monitoring the program’s progress closely, Andrichik said, and is committed to constant improvement.

“Within a week or two we’ll be able to gauge our usage statistics and redistribute the number of papers throughout campus accordingly,” he said. “Right now, we’re pleased with the desire for the paper, and we’re off to a great start.”