The Collegiate Readership Program, which provided free daily newspapers to students, has been suspended for the second semester in two years due to a declining readership and a lack of funding from campus organizations.
Despite vocal student support, the program’s sponsors did not gather sufficient resources to finance the service for this academic year, InterHall’s Vice President of Student Advocacy Shea Houlihan (SFS ’13) wrote in an email. InterHall was a sponsor of the program.
“[InterHall’s] on-campus administrative partners and fellow student organizations were unable or unwilling to put together the necessary funds. While we did receive vocal support from different areas, the money was simply not there,” he wrote.
With the boost in popularity of online news content, many saw the program as unnecessary.
“A couple of organizations we were working with tried to do fundraising. . But when funding is tight, it’s hard to fund a service that you can access for free online,” Vice President of Georgetown University Student Association Jason Kluger (MSB ’11) said.
The Collegiate Readership Program’s financial woes have persisted from the 2009-2010 school year, when the program was halted due to a lack of funding.
Houlihan commended his predecessor, Will Cousino (SFS ’12), for his successful revival of the program. “It was due to the efforts of Will Cousino . and his partners in GUSA, The Corp and other organizations that the Readership Program was restarted last semester after its intermission during fall 2009. InterHall talked to different vice presidents’ offices and other organizations to put together the necessary $6,000,” he wrote.
In addition to those groups, Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union, the senior vice president’s office and the McDonough School of Business contributed funds to pay for last semester’s newspapers. Incidentally, while shutting down stands at O’Donovan Hall, Leavey Center and Alumni Square, a new stand was placed in the MSB’s Rafik B. Hariri Building.
The program could be up and running in the future, Houlihan suggested, but only with financial independence.
“I would be only too happy to join with other organizations once more if we can develop the initiative into a self-sustaining program that does not require us to go cap in hand each semester looking for new sources of funding,” he said.
“It’s an initiative that is on hiatus, but not gone,” Kluger said.
Houlihan’s solution to the financial constraints – to negotiate a year-long contract that would cost less than two separate semester-long contracts – was unsuccessful due to a lack of funding by the contract’s August deadline.
Despite vocal support, Houlihan argued that statistics gathered by the program’s leaders show declining support for the program.
“Only 37 percent of the USA Todays delivered were read, on average, compared to 72 percent of The Washington Posts and 81 percent of The New York Times . I should also point out these numbers are further reduced from years past, so we have noted a decline of interest in the Readership [Program] over a few years.”
“This fact . led us to believe the program is not a high priority either for residents or for other student organizations. As such, InterHall has moved on to support more pressing matters, such as the intermission of the Residential Judicial Council,” Houlihan wrote.