“Reading is fundamental.”
For more than two years the Student Readership Program has been available to the student body at Florida A&M University.
The readership program, which was brought to FAMU in 2003 under former Student Government Association President Larry O. Rivers’ administration, provides four newspapers to the student body free of charge: the Tallahassee Democrat, the New York Times, USA Today and the newly added Capitol Outlook.
The papers are available Monday through Friday during the fall and spring semesters. There have been no immediate plans to make the newspapers available during the summer.
“FAMU is one of the few HBCUs in the country that has this program,” said SGA president Ramon Alexander. The purpose of the program is to “make sure that the student body is well informed,” said Alexander,21, a senior political science student from Tallahassee.
“All of the papers are always taken,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ebony Ivory. “I think the program is very successful.”
The program, which is funded through SGA and Activities and Services funds, is consistently funded. “This ensures that the program will continue,” Alexander said.
Although Alexander and Ivory are confident in the program, some FAMU students question its efficiency. “Is it really cost effective?” questioned Cinitra Williams, 24 ,a graduate social work student from St. Petersburg. “I know that some of our fees go toward it, but are students really using it?”
One student who has not used the program, Rasheed Lasaki, a second-year business management student from Miami, said that he is “not aware of the program.” He said that one reason he is not utilizing it is because of lack of publicity.
“Signs will go up in the future,” Alexander said, “as a way to inform the student body about the program.” Alexander also pointed out that “information about the Readership Program was given out at convocations.”
Another concern of some students is the accessibility of the newspaper dispensers. Currently, there are two dispensers located on campus: one in front of the Cafe and the other on the Set in front of the Student Union.
Jonise Sainvil, 20, a third-year public management student from Ft. Lauderdale, agreed. “Freshman year I used it everyday, but I lived on campus then,” she said. “I live off campus now and it’s not convenient for me to get a paper from the bins. All of my classes are in GC, I don’t go on the Set or to the Cafe, so I haven’t used it lately.”
According to Alexander, there are plans to expand the program beyond the current locations.
Alexander also stressed that there are student surveys that are put forth yearly, which monitor the effectiveness of the program.
“A recent student survey found that the USA Today was not being used as much as the other papers, so now, as a result, there are fewer of those papers,” said Alexander.
Alexander said that the survey is used as a means to specifically cater to students.
Although students who reside off campus have their reservations about the readership program and its accessibility to them, the program does prove beneficial to some students who live on campus.
“I usually pick up a paper before class or every time I go to the mailbox,” said Darrin Williams, 18, a freshman political science student from Ocala. “I try to pick a variety of papers, they all have political views and ideologies.”
Kevin Richberg, 19, a second-year architecture student from Philadelphia, said he has seen the bins before. Richberg said he “usually picks up a paper at the bin near the Cafe.”
As for the status of the program, Alexander notes that compared to other schools, FAMU is “doing well. We are trying to do things that are in the best interest of the student body.”
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