Natale ’16: The importance of easy access to print media on campus

Upon returning to Wheaton this fall, one of the things I was looking forward to most was waking up early to grab The New York Times and reading it from a window table in Emerson. The first few weeks the paper wasn’t there, and I figured that its arrival had been delayed, and it would surely be available soon. Then it was October, and there was still no paper. I started to ask around, and heard that the newspaper wouldn’t be arriving for financial reasons. I was incredulous.

Last year, the communications office advertised to students that we would have access to the print and digital versions of The New York Times, so it seemed strange that this would just stop suddenly. After many emails to the Communications Department, I learned that the newspaper program would be in hiatus, pending a budget re-evaluation. I was also told that its cost is significant, but it only benefits “a portion of the student body.” 

This is where I would care to disagree. The newspaper program is incredibly popular; I know this because if I got to the dining hall after 9:30, my hopes of getting the paper were shot. Classes were known to integrate the paper into their academics, notably Jay Goodman’s American Political Systems and Bill Kole’s Journalism course. Political Science and International Relations majors directly benefitted from access to the paper in the dining halls. The May Fellows program once hosted a Sunday morning paper and breakfast event, using the paper to build community. For the burgeoning business major, the paper allows the opportunity to follow business news and check the stock market. And beyond the discipline of majors, there are simply many Wheaton students who wish to be informed about what is happening in the world. 

I guess you could ask, ‘why not just go to the periodicals?’ Wheaton students have incredibly tight schedules, but everyone has to eat. The paper allowed students to enjoy catching up on the news while they ate and got ready for class for the day. Additionally, students were allowed to take the papers out of the dining hall, whereas publications in the Periodicals cannot be taken out of the library. The Periodicals section provides great access to a wide range of magazines and I’m happy we have it as a resource. However, with access to the paper, I don’t think it needs to be an either-or deal. The Periodicals section also only has one copy of the daily paper, making it much less accessible for students. 

At an institution whose goal is to produce engaged, informed citizens, it is sad that the importance of the paper has fallen to the wayside. I have reached out to Student Government Association, and it is my hope that they will advocate for the return of the paper to the dining halls. I will miss the mornings I spent in Emerson reading the paper before heading to class. They were a defining part of my Wheaton experience. I hope they are not gone for good.