RHA decision might affect student tuition

RHA voted Thursday to distribute three newspapers, including USA Today, to residence halls next year as part of the Newspaper Readership Program.

The program is expected to increase student fees by a little over $10 a year.

"The campus as a whole is trying to better life on campus and in the halls," said Mike Slocum, the national communications coordinator.

However, when papers were available between Aug. 27 and Sept. 24, only 20.7 percent of the 2,004 students participating picked one up.

The figure, published in a survey taken after the month-long test, was too low for some RHA members. They asked why all students should pay for something only a fifth of them would use.

Still, their concerns weren't not enough to sway the rest of RHA, which approved the program by a vote of 23-6.

"The papers will available for everyone," said Stella Shaw, the RHA president. "It's up to them to use it.

"There's a lot of reasons why it's going to be a good program."

Shaw said the program could hone students' time management skills while providing them with international and national news.

According to the survey, 66 percent of the students read the newspaper for national news. Thirty-eight percent read international news.

In a survey taken before the papers were distributed, 54 percent read national news, and 32 percent looked at international affairs.

Though RHA approved the program, it has two more hurdles before it's officially accepted.

The Housing and Residence Life leaders must approve the program and include it in their budget.

After that, the Board of Trustees must approve the budget. However, Slocum expects the board to approve what Housing and Residence Life gives them.

"The Board of Trustees is just a formality," Slocum said.

If it is accepted, USA Today will be one of the papers because it is sponsoring the program. According to Shaw, the other papers will cover regional and local news.

Though no papers were specified, the New York Times and the Star Press were used during the trial period.

All of these papers offer free access to their stories on the Internet. However, Slocum, citing the survey, said most students would rather have a paper delivered to their residence hall. According to the survey, 33 percent of the students never access the newspaper on the Internet.


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