Student Body Vice President Austin Prentice and Sen. Zainab Farzal (Dedman II) authored the bill behind the vote. Representatives from the Readership Program came to Senate during their March 8 meeting to pitch the program.
What this would do is provide print copies of the New York Times and USA Today to students for free during a four-week period. The point being, of course, that SMU and the Readership Program can gather data to see if implementing the full-scale readership program would be successful.
This pilot program would be completely free, and SMU’s participation does not mean that it has to enroll in the full readership program once the pilot program ends.
Full implementation would mean that students would get access to free papers and SMU (most likely Senate unless they can get funding from somewhere other than student fees) would pay for the copies that were picked up. Students would also be able to receive a 25 percent discount for access to the NYT online when that site begins charging later this year.
Prentice, Farzal and the Readership Program are looking to have the pilot program in April, with newspapers set up in various locations.
There are some concerns among senators, notably the cost of the full program and the program’s effect on campus media. But this bill would only authorize the pilot program, not the full-scale program, so Senate would have time to consider every angle before deciding whether to commit to the program.