Free newspapers removed from campus

Students at Mercyhurst College have had the luxury of free access to the New York Times, the Erie Times-News and the USA Today in past years.

This year, for budget reasons the free papers were eliminated and can no longer be found on campus.

In the winter term of the 2010-11 school year, Mercyhurst Student Government surveyed students to see what programs they accessed and used regularly and which they did not. Results showed that students were barely picking up a copy of the newspapers on campus.

“I want to responsibly use the money we have for the students,” Vice President for Student Life Gerard Tobin said.

The survey showed the amount of students who read the newspapers daily was less than 5 percent out of 544 survey participants. When students were asked if they picked up a copy weekly, results showed that 13 percent read the New York Times, 15 percent read the USA Today and about 18 percent read the Erie Times-News. When asked if students rarely or never read the papers, results showed that 60 percent to fell into this category.

By making these cuts, Mercyhurst will save roughly $20,000 to $25,000 annually. This money will then be used for programs around campus that more students favor.

“Even if we were not in the position to make cuts, we still would examine that most students are not using the service and possibly cut it anyway,” Tobin said.

With no longer having the convenience of the free newspapers, students and faculty will have to resort to online papers to continue a free read. Most papers will allow up to ten free reads; however, without a paper subscription, a fee will have to be paid for further access of full articles.

“Having free access to the newspapers was a nice convenience, although I rarely picked up a copy so I don’t think the cut should be a big issue,” junior Megan O’Polka said.

Although the papers were taken away, if there is a great desire for their return, the program would be reconsidered.

“I’ve noticed that in the last three years the papers didn’t seem to be getting picked up, except for maybe the New York Times. I’ve talked to students about the media, and print isn’t high on their choices anymore, so with that in mind, it doesn’t make sense to spend money on it,” Bill Welch, an instructor and adviser for The Merciad, said.