Readership followup

Senate is now launching a new readership program, which gives University students unlimited digital access to the New York Times. On April 12, students voted to end the Collegiate Readership Program through USA Today, which provides newspapers to students at various locations across campus, as pictured. 

University of Kansas students now have unlimited online access to The New York Times, following the implementation of Student Senate’s new readership program.

After roughly 65 percent the University’s student body voted against continuing the previous USA Today program — which gave students print and limited digital access to The Kansas City Star, Lawrence Journal-World, The New York Times and USA Today — Senate sought out an alternative to ensure access to news on campus. The new program provides students access solely to The Times digital archive through  

“Journalism is an important aspect of the student experience," Student Body President Noah Ries said. "We see this as a critical and necessary improvement.”

Students can independently purchase unlimited online access to The Times on a discounted basis for $1 per week. But by gaining access through Student Senate, students will pay $0.25 per semester for the same features.

Currently, students are not paying the fee for the next 18 months, as a reserve fund allows Senate to run the program without it being at the expense of students.

Zach Thomason helped bring the program to campus after he became Senate chief of staff in October.

“It’s a win-win for KU and for New York Times. The New York Times gets potential subscribers,” Thomason said. “Post-college, many Jayhawks will probably end up subscribing if they realize they like content. During their college experience, they'll get it relatively for free and after that for a ridiculously low cost relative to other options or alternatives.” 

Students sign up to gain digital access by filling in their first and last name, graduation year and their KU email address. Faculty, staff and alumni are not eligible to have access to The Times through the portal, according to the website.

The confirmation process may take up to a week following the submission of their email into the online portal. While students have access to the digital archive, they do not have access to some features of The Times, such as the online daily crossword.

And though faculty cannot sign for full access to the publication through the portal, they can turn over their syllabus to gain access for their course. The Times additionally has a curated list for educators based around pre-determined topics, such as microeconomics or business.

Senate is hopeful this initiative will help transform textbook affordability on this campus, Thomason said, as more educators would utilize these curated collections and articles over textbooks. 

Since Ries came into office, one of the main platforms he’s focused on is speaking out against the rising costs of textbooks on campus.

“I think this the kind of work student government should be doing to positively impact student experience, lower cost and ultimately have a service that is important,” Thomason said.

Members of Senate are also glad to have access to newspapers back on campus, Thomason said.

“In this era of the word 'fake news,' having something as prestigious as The New York Times — the world-record holder for Pulitzer prizes — on this campus, that's important and powerful,” Thomason said. 

The program will run for the next 18 months, according to Ries and Thomason. Following that period, senators will reevaluate whether the program is viable.