Although The George Washington University recently cut its Collegiate Readership Program due to lack of interest, Georgetown’s own service will not suffer the same fate any time soon.

According to The GW Hatchet, GWU ended the USA Today-sponsored service, which provides free daily copies of The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today to students, in late August due to budget cuts and a lack of student interest in the program.

The Georgetown University Student Association restarted Georgetown’s subscription to the same program last spring, distributing papers in Lauinger Library, Red Square and Sellinger Lounge, after its suspension in Fall 2010. By financing the $12,500 service out of its own pocket, GUSA provides the program with a reliable source of funding that it lacked in previous years. It is an investment that GUSA leaders say they plan to continue making on a yearly basis as long as the service remains popular with students.

According to Tyler Sax (COL ’13), a Finance and Appropriations Committee member who was instrumental in negotiating the contract with USA Today, bringing the Collegiate Readership Program completely under GUSA’s budget has been the key to the service’s sustainability. In previous years, the program had relied on contributions from multiple student groups.

“We wanted to make it something line-item in the budget, so that it would be here year to year,” Sax said. “With the Student Activities Fee Endowment reform, it was something we were able to do without taking away from other student activities.”

While funding for the service is no longer a problem, many students have questioned the value of bringing the program back given the increasing tendency of students to get their news online. The results of a survey conducted by Interhall in Fall 2010 showed that under 50 percent of students had been in favor of reinstating the subscription.

Jed Feinman (COL ’12), a former GUSA presidential candidate, believes student money should be spent on services other than the distribution of print media throughout campus.

“If the majority of Georgetown students read media on the web, they should most certainly have to pay for it themselves,” Feinman said.

Despite the increasing use of online news services, the free papers have been extremely popular with students since their return to campus.

“When I go past the Intercultural Center, the papers are gone by noon, so students are obviously reading the papers,” GUSA Vice President Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) said.

He added that GUSA is still credited for any unused papers on days when papers are not picked up because of bad weather or other reasons.

Many students enjoy the tangible aspect of newspaper that digital subscriptions cannot provide.

“It allows you to go through systematically and choose what you want to browse,” said Christian Chung (SFS ’13), who grabs a a paper almost every day. “Sometimes people don’t always have the ability to carry their laptops everywhere.”

Laverriere recognized that students’ methods of accessing news are changing, but he feels that the popularity of the service speaks for its sustainability.

“It’s obviously not a great time in the world for print media,” he said. “But as long as students demonstrate that its something they’re interested in, GUSA will continue to invest the money.”

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