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Readership program offers free paper on campus

Last week, Student Government, in conjunction with the USA Today, launched its Collegiate Readership Program allowing students with valid ID cards to receive free copies of the USA Today and the Tampa Tribune.

Including those papers, USF now offers at least seven different free news and entertainment publications, including the St. Petersburg Times, Creative Loafing, the TBT and the Oracle, as well as several other publications dealing specifically with advertisements.

According to SG Chief of Staff David Brickhouse, the white metal cases with built-in card readers were strategically placed around campus two weeks ago and filled with the papers on Monday. Altogether, 12 bins have been ordered and at least two more are waiting to be installed.

“(We’re waiting on) 2-3 bins to be installed – a lot of that is the installation process itself,” Brickhouse said. “The (Phyllis P.) Marshall Center and College of Medicine I know are two of the places. The Marshall Center is because the new one is being built and the old one torn down so we’re looking for somewhere else to put (the newspaper display bins).We put them in the highest traffic areas possible.”

SG began working on the program last summer but because of communication errors between SG and Student Affairs, paperwork was tied up for several months.

“I’ve been working on this for over a year now and it’s finally done,” Brickhouse said.According to Brickhouse, the total amount of funding allocated by SG for the project was $50,000, however, the amount actually spent is based according to how many papers are distributed.

“The total allocation was $50,000… but if we only distribute $30,000 worth (of papers) then we still have $20,000 left,” Brickhouse said.

According to USAToday.com, “All display, delivery, recycling and related services are provided as part of The Collegiate Readership Program.” At the end of each week, Brickhouse reviews how many papers have been dispersed and the amount of money spent is calculated.

Although the contract between USF and USA Today is set to expire in August, Brickhouse said he is in the process of renegotiating to extend the program longer.

USF was the only Florida college not participating in the program, Brickhouse said. However, after looking at models from other campuses, SG decided it would be beneficial to the student body to start the program.

USA Today’s Collegiate Readership program began in 1997 at Penn State University as a way to engage students in world events. It has nearly 400 participating schools nationwide, according to USAToday.com.

“This is a great resource available to students,” Brickhouse said. “The educational benefit of just knowing what’s going on in the community, what’s going on in the world is something that students should be aware of at a university of higher education. Widening the base of knowledge that (students) have instead of going to class and going back home – (students) are more engaged with society.”