Collegiate Readership trial comes to an end

By and

Students can say goodbye to USA Today, The Salt Lake Tribune, the Deseret Morning News and the Financial Times newspapers on Friday.

In addition to being the last day of the school week, Friday marks the last day of the Collegiate Readership Program trial at the U. That means the papers will be gone. At this point, nobody knows for sure if they will be coming back.

The only way the papers will return is if there is an “overwhelming positive response” from the student body to keep the papers on campus.

Pre-surveys (which have already been conducted) and post-surveys (being conducted today) provided by USA Today are what the U is using to assess the student body’s opinion about the papers.

Jeffrey Mathis, chief of staff for the Associated Students of the University of Utah, and Kari Ellingson, assistant vice president of student development and evaluation, pondered conducting their own post-surveys because they wondered if the ones provided by USA Today were truly unbiased or not.

According to Ellingson, there was one question on the survey about which she felt unsure. “What are the benefits of reading papers?” is the question, and there is no place for students to indicate if they think there are no benefits of reading papers.

Overall, however, Mathis and Ellingson decided that the USA Today surveys would suffice, especially because the data is being analyzed by an outside company-Quality Data Systems of Crofton in Maryland.

Today, the post-surveys are being conducted at the Union, Marriott Library, Heritage Center, Social and Behavioral Science Building and Christensen Center.

According to Mathis, these sites were decided upon because they are “heavy traffic areas where a wide variety of students can be polled.”

The two days of data collection will yield approximately 2,800 surveys, and the analysis that Quality Data Systems sends back dictates what happens next.

If the results show that the student body is overwhelmingly in favor of having the papers on campus, then ASUU would recommend creating a bill that would raise student fees by about $5 per student per semester. This increase would be completely independent of the proposed 4.5 percent tuition hike already proposed by the Utah State Board of Regents.

Since proposals for hikes in student fees aren’t reviewed for approval by the Regents until spring, the papers may not even be back by April 2004.

Student opinion seems to be mixed on the matter.

“I’m opposed,” said Paul Emett, chemical engineering major. “USA Today is a waste of time since the reporting is not as detailed. And The Tribune is inexpensive enough to subscribe to and convenient to get before school.”

Brady Hildt, sociology major said, “I don’t like all that print. Environmentally, it’s not as sound as reading the papers online, especially with all the computer resources we have here at the U.”

Phil Purcell said, “Yeah, it’s worth the $5 per semester, but I see papers cluttered all over the classrooms. They at least need to put out more recycle bins.”

Other students, like Eric Purkey and Stacy Sobieski, said a $5 student fee isn’t too much, and that in the end it won’t make a huge difference.

“My parents are paying for tuition anyway,” Sobieski said.

Whether or not the papers come back to campus next year, and whether or not student fees will be increased by about $5, will ultimately be decided by those who fill out the surveys.

But no matter what happens, students can always find copies of these papers online.

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