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SG still waiting for free papers

Early last fall, Student Government took it upon itself to begin an initiative to encourage students to read more newspapers. That plan, however, has still not been completed, leaving many in SG curious as to what is taking so long.

Last semester, David Brickhouse, director of governmental relations and legislative advocacy for SG, set in motion a plan that would put SG in partnership with USA Today’s College Readership Program, bringing about 1,000 free papers to campus. Several months later, SG is only slightly closer to completing the contract, and many in the executive branch said it might be due to lack of timeliness on the part of Student Affairs and/or the Physical Plant.

The agreement stated that USA Today would distribute its own paper along with the Tampa Tribune to students free of charge. The USA Today Web site also said it would provide the stands for the papers, pick up the remainders at the end of the day, keep track of how many were given out and recycle those not used. SG would be responsible for is paying an upfront amount of $50,000 and the cost of only those papers distributed.

According to Brickhouse, SG had the majority of its work for the project completed by early September. “I’ve been working on this since basically the day I started in May,” Brickhouse said. “Around the second week of September I acquired $50,000 from the senate and got approval from Student Government to implement the program, and I also had the USF General Counsel read and approve and renegotiated the USA Today contract, and we successfully did that.

“From there, USA Today’s legal department approved our terms so that’s all been set since September. We’ve been waiting on Student Affairs from September until January – the second week in January….”

Brickhouse also said he had to wait on the Physical Plant to approve space impact forms dictating where SG would be allowed to set up newspaper stands.

However, some in SG thought the process took far too long.

“The way you go through these space request things is … currently you go through your area vice president – which we could’ve sought a different area vice president in retrospect, and considering the outcome I think we would’ve if we could go back and do it again,” student body President Frank Harrison said. “But the natural role with Student Affairs and Student Government is that when it comes to these types of issues, you would go down and say, ‘Can you lobby for this for me? Can you go to bat for us on it?’ and basically they would have to approve it.

“What happened was we basically said, ‘OK here’s what we’re doing, can you help us approve this? Yes, we’re going to take care of it.’ We proceeded to wait, and we stayed in touch with them over those months saying, ‘What’s going on? Where is this at?’ and it was literally the classic USF shuffle of, ‘Well, I have to ask so and so and (they) have to ask so and so.’

It’s a touchy situation because it’s very difficult with that shuffle. It’s always a challenge because you can’t ever really find out if someone was not pushing hard enough or if they really were encountering that, and it went on and on and on.”

According to Kevin Banks, assistant vice president for Student Affairs, a large part of the delay came from a contract they already had with another local paper. Banks said that because of the pre-existing contract, Student Affairs needed to check with the other newspaper to ensure it wouldn’t be in violation of the agreement.

Although the contract still needs to be signed by Jennifer Meningall, vice president for Student Affairs, and the Physical Plant has to find homes for a few of the stands, Brickhouse and Banks both agreed that all departments are working in cooperation to have the papers on campus as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to have it completed by the end of the spring semester,” Banks said.