The USA Today Collegiate Readership Program provides campuses with three different daily newspapers, USA Today and two others of the College's choice. They would be placed in racks around campus, most likely in Buntrock Commons and the residence halls, Wetzel said.
The cost of the program would depend on which newspapers the College chooses, as well as the number of newspapers students pick up. If Wetzel's proposal passes next Thursday, the logistics will be determined after a free one-month no-obligation trial period at the beginning of second semester.
"[The program representatives] are very, very flexible and willing to work with schools," Wetzel said. "During the trial period, they conduct surveys of the student body to evaluate if students like it."
Wetzel speculated that the Star Tribune and the New York Times would be the companion papers to kick off the demo period in February. After that, student surveys will determine which newspapers the campus receives.
Brandon Crase '05, Political Awareness Committee (PAC) coordinator, has been working in conjunction with Wetzel to get the program started. He sees the USA Today Readership Program as an opportunity to increase students' accessibility to issues which extend beyond campus.
"The New York Times is in the library reading room, but there is the problem of the ease of access. The New York Times is also online, but people just don't read it," Crase said. "I think it's worth the money to put the papers out so people will read them."
After the trial period, the $5,000 would fund the program for the duration of second semester, from March 7, 2005 to May 17, 2005. With sufficient student interest, Wetzel and Crase hope to incorporate the program into the SGA budget for the 2005-2006 school year, which will be set by April 28, 2005.
They plan to propose that SGA allocate $10,000 to the readership program. Another future funding option would be an $8,000 contribution from the President's Office, while the Political Awareness Committee (PAC) would contribute $2,000.
"We're looking into other sources [of funding] because most people would identify this as a student fee," Wetzel said. "If we go through SGA, where money is allocated to branches, branch coordinators change from year to year - We don't want any one branch to have an extra financial burden."
Wetzel said that if the proposal passes, service can be provided based on a set fee per student or on an overall monetary limit which would determine the number of newspapers delivered every day. The newspaper distributors would remove unused copies and put in new ones every day; billing would be based exclusively on consumed newspapers.
Wetzel also expressed the hope that newspaper consumption might be limited to students through the use of residence hall cards, or some other identifying device.
As last year's PAC coordinator, Wetzel said she often encountered students who asked if there was a way to bring more newspapers to campus. This year, she began doing research to see how other schools bring in state and national news.
"After reading the program literature and talking to other schools that have it, I'm really impressed," Wetzel said.