Author: Berit Anderson
Stuff is happening “out there.” Global citizens are suffering from human rights violations, ethnic conflicts are raging, important political decisions are being made and, perhaps most importantly, Britney’s lawyer and manager both abandoned ship last week. Beyond the bubble defined by Campus Road and the ridge of Mount Fiji that encompasses our fine educational establishment, there is a plethora of news stories surfacing at any given moment that cries out for our attention.
Still, we are all busy, constantly shuffling between classes, clubs, athletics and meetings-which is why I have always been appreciative of Oxy’s attempt to make the outside world accessible to its overscheduled, underslept student body. In past years, grabbing a free New York or Los Angeles Times from a dorm newsstand in the morning had allowed me to keep up on current affairs on-the-go-reading about new healthcare plans and natural disasters in Southeast Asia while simultaneously navigating the steps between Fowler and Johnson.
Now all this has changed. As the Weekly reported last week, the free newspaper service has been discontinued. Granted, I no longer live on campus, but if I did, I would be forced to endure the sight of an empty foyer every morning in my quest for national and global truths. No familiar newsstand. Even the sad impressions left in the carpet by its four tiny feet have been rubbed out.
To compound an emotionally fragile situation, the bookstore has stopped offering student subscriptions to the LA Times as of this fall, a deal that saved news-hungry co-eds approximately 67 percent of the newsstand price in the past. This is fiscally understandable, given that last year a scanty six subscriptions were sold, but in combination with the sudden lack of free print journalism available, quite a blow to the heavy news readers of the Oxy community.
However, not all hope is lost. The New York Times, LA Times and Wall Street Journal are still available for purchase on a daily basis in the bookstore, as long as you don’t all rush in there on the same day. According to Dennis Johnson, the General Book Buyer in charge of ordering papers, the store receives an average five copies of the New York Times, five of the LA Times and two of the Wall Street Journal each day, three of which are pre-sold to the Office of Admission and Johnson himself.
That leaves the rest of the student-faculty population, a combined number of 1,975, with only 12 copies of national papers available for sale. For those without a propensity for mathematical calculations, that means that only one out of every 165 students and faculty can even buy a paper on campus. The remaining 1,963 will have to venture into the library to take advantage of their single LA and NY Times subscriptions.
Although the lack of printed national news material available on campus is reprehensible, it’s important not to point fingers too quickly. Johnson had no idea that the free paper service had been cancelled and immediately volunteered to increase the number of papers he requested each day by a factor of two. The fact that both services were nixed in the same year seems to be more of a problem of ignorance than an attack on student services.
Therefore, in lieu of raving angrily about rising tuition coupled with declining student services and regard for the desires of the Oxy community, I would propose a simple plan of action. Reinstitute the availability of free national print journalism, but on a smaller scale. The $10,000-a-year price tag attached to the service served as the main deterrent for the continuation of the project, according to the Weekly’s Oxy Update column, but I would suggest a simple consolidation of the program rather than a once and for all kaput.
Students don’t need both the NY and LA versions of the news. One or the other would suffice. Neither do these papers need to be delivered directly to residence halls. Exercise is good for the soul, and a stack of papers waiting patiently in the Marketplace, the Cooler or the library would do a body good and simultaneously ease the stress of delivery.
We all know CNN is available online, but there’s something earthy about being able to physically flip through a newspaper, no matter how much ink you come away with on your hands when you’re done reading. An extra 10 or 15 copies delivered to a central location on campus would allow the traditionalist news media snobs and tactile learners among us a chance to grab the news in both hands and hold on tight.
Berit Anderson is a junior DWA major. She can be reached at [email protected]
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