In late April, the New York Times and USA Today stopped getting delivered to the University of Florida campus. The reason? An outstanding debt of almost $30,000. A front-page article in The Independent Florida Alligator said that a representative from the USA Today had been trying to get in contact with someone from the Student Government, even the adviser, since the beginning of the year with no success. A conference call was set up with SG, but the students apparently didn’t show up.
Student Body President Christina Bonarrigo said that she was not aware of the fact that they were going to reduce the distribution of papers, but she said that UF honored the signed agreement with the USA Today. She also said that the contract agreed that funds were “subject to availability.”
In the same issue of The Alligator, another front-page story directly next to this one described how Governor Rick Scott restored $300 million cut from universities last year. UF President Bernie Machen said, “We have money to invest in new initiatives. We really have a pretty much balanced budget, so we’re not looking for cuts, we’re looking for reinvestments.”
If the university is going to be seeing more money in the future, and we’re talking about millions, why are we in debt to the newspapers for such a minuscule amount in comparison? I’m not sure where the funds come from to pay for the free newspapers on campus, but shouldn’t we be concerned that the “reinvestments” that Machen talked about don’t include paying off the debt we owe and continuing the distribution of national and award-winning papers to students?
Furthermore, if the SG doesn’t feel the need to address this problem or think that it’s important, what does that say about not only the students that attend this school, but also the future of journalism? It’s almost like a slap in the face to the journalism school and students to not continue delivering the papers.
Being an avid reader of the New York Times, I am upset that I won’t be able to get a hard copy of the paper. How did SG let this go by unnoticed? Are there more students that think this is an outrage? All of my professors at UF have told me to read the newspaper and having them for free on campus made that easy. Now that they’re gone, I find myself less engaged with national and world news.
While newspapers are not a necessity to life and I might sound like a spoiled college student, I believe that newspapers are another way to learn for not only students, but everybody.
The USA Today representative said that they were open to renegotiate and discuss a new contract for the fall semester. Bonarrigo said that the Student Government Senate will vote on this issue in the near future. Hopefully, the SG and the university will take this as seriously as I do and bring back papers that are worth reading.