SG to attempt readership program

Student Government is talking with USA Today in order to make USF a member of the publication’s College Readership Program. If the pending deal is accepted, national publications will become easily accessible and free of charge to students on campus.

According to USA Today Marketing Director Emi Heil, the College Readership Program initially started in 1997 by the president of Penn State University. There are more than 420 schools participating in the program, with at least 15 in Florida alone.

According to David Brickhouse, director of Governmental Relations for SG, the program will supply the University with 500 copies of USA Today on a daily basis.

“We are currently in negotiations with USA Today,” Brickhouse said. “We have received their proposal and are currently in the process of making sure all details are good before signing a contract.”

According to Brickhouse, a proposed budget bill will be submitted to the SG senate when it convenes Tuesday. If the bill is approved by the senate, upon the discretion of Student Affairs, and with general counsel approval, USF will sign the contract with USA Today. Due to restructuring departments and many counsel holdups, there is no official timetable for approval.

“Optimistically, we hope to have the readership by October,” Brickhouse said.

This is not the first time USF has attempted to establish a readership with the newspaper. In 2000 and 2001, initial plans to establish one was put into action led by Harold Dixon and Elizabeth Kaplon, according to Heil.

Under Dixon and Kaplon, USF students were surveyed on their reading habits, reflecting that 75 percent of the students felt the availability of newspapers on campus contributed to the habit of reading a paper on a regular basis.

“The readership has been a long process, four or five years in the making,” Heil said. “The College Readership Program is designed to promote civic engagement, global awareness and media literacy on campus by exposing students to the news in their living, learning and community spaces.”

The pending readership with USA Today would add to the University’s already existing deal with local news outlets. For three years, USF has been receiving 500 copies of the St. Petersburg Times through an agreement between the newspaper and the Athletic Department.

Heil believes the program will help students in a variety of ways.

“The students of USF will benefit from the availability of various news sources on campus each day,” Heil said. “It is so easy when you are a student to get so bogged down in classes and homework, not to mention jobs, family and friends … that you don’t seek out news in your own time. This helps combat that problem.”

Brickhouse and student body President Frank Harrison have been major forces to get the College Readership Program at USF.

“(They) have spearheaded the program on campus to encourage high-order critical thinking skills and prepare the student body for civic engagement,” Heil said.

Plans include installing 12 stand locations, which would be custom designed by USA Today, in proposed areas that include the Library, Cooper Hall, the social science pathway, the Phyllis P. Marshall Center, the College of Medicine, Business Administration, the Argos dining hall and the Student Services building.