Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG) launched an initiative Wednesday that allows students free access to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal on their personal devices.
Vanderbilt used to provide free print copies of newspapers to students, but they discontinued the service a few years ago due to lack of use, VSG president Tariq Issa said.
Danielle Evans (‘18) started the momentum to bring students free online subscriptions to new sources independently, Issa said. She pursued funding from different campus offices on a month-by-month basis to provide students with New York Times access. VSG got involved in the cause last year, and former VSG vice president Ryan Connor (‘18) worked with Evans to bring the issue to the Chancellor and the Provost.
The driving force for the initiative is the importance of making news access equitable, despite financial backgrounds, Issa said.
“Things like the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are really important at the times of [job] recruitment,” Issa said. “You’re trying to know what’s going on in the markets because they’re going to ask you about that in your interview. Someone who might not be able to afford those resources wouldn’t be able to access that.”
With the VSG’s involvement, Chancellor Zeppos bought into the cause at the end of the year, Issa said. After the turn-over in VSG administration, Tariq and the new staff secured the Provost’s Office support, who is funding the current one-year contracts with both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
Campus libraries are currently managing the program. VSG hopes that they will eventually take over funding the program because they have been providing students access to newspapers on library computers for years, Issa said.
“After this one year, we’re hoping that they take it over fully,” Issa said. “They have a lot of negotiating power because of their pre-existing relationships with these newspapers, so they can negotiate a longer term deal for a cheaper price.”
Irrespective of the sponsoring office, the continuation of the program requires student support. Evans contributed to the initial demonstration of student interest for the initiative, and student use of the program will be vital in keeping the program going, Issa said.
“Vanderbilt’s very data driven,” Issa said. “If there are numbers that show something, they will follow it.”