Members of the Student Association are making efforts to reinstate the GW Reads program and fill the vacant ground-floor space of the Marvin Center.
In September, the administration announced that it was ending the $50,000 newspaper program due to budget constraints. The program had supplied free copies of The Washington Post, USA Today and The New York Times to students in residence halls.
Since September, members of the SA have been looking for a way to offer students free or discounted newspapers. University officials said GW does not have any plans to subsidize the program again.
“We felt very strongly that there needs to be some sort of replacement program that provides affordable access to newspapers,” said Sen. Nathan Brill (SB-U), about a resolution that passed through the Senate in late September and was signed by SA President Lamar Thorpe calling for an investigation into how to supply newspapers to students.
“We’ve been e-mailing different newspapers to see what deals we could get,” said junior Nick D’Addario, the SA’s vice president for undergraduate student policy, whom Thorpe charged to work on the issue.
D’Addario said a potential option would be to purchase newspapers in bulk. Students would be able to participate in the program for a nominal fee. No plans have been submitted to Thorpe or the University.
“If we could get (GW Reads) in some form or reduced form, then we’ll be lucky,” he said.
Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services said it is unlikely the University would fund such a program.
“There are no plans, unless new funding becomes available, to re-establish the newspaper program this academic year,” he said.
Individual student discounts are offered by most major newspapers, but students have found it difficult to obtain daily papers.
“I’ve been unable to get my Wall Street Journal for the last two months,” said Evan Vandeveer, a sophomore, who bought a subscription to the paper at the beginning of the year.
“A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from Package Services. When I went down there I found 20 papers bundled with twine.”
Like the GW Reads program, the decision over the Marvin Center basement is still in discussion stages in the SA. Executive Vice President Josh Lasky has spent several months gathering student input on the area that was home to District Market last year. The University and Sodexho, GW’s food-service provider, remodeled food options in the Marvin Center over the summer and got rid of the grocery store.
“We are pushing for a lounge-type space that will double for use by performing arts groups,” said Lasky, a senior, who added that he has been working with the University do devise a plan for the nearly 5,000-square foot space.
“We are pushing hard to have a portion of the revenue brought in through the addition of reservable space to be put toward student organizations or student activities,” Lasky said.
“This would not only solve part of the funding crisis facing the SA and student organizations on campus, but would also reaffirm the University’s commitment to students amidst the challenge of SASS budget cuts.”
Lasky said he has been compiling input from different student organizations and leaders about what they would like to see done with the space.
“Students have said that they want a comfortable space where they can relax, socialize or study, while at the same time, there is a significant demand for additional performing arts space.”
Michael Peller, the managing director of the Marvin Center, said that no decisions have been made.
“There are a number of topics on the table,” he said. “We’ve been getting the sense of peoples’ thoughts, and we’re looking for things that are in the best interest of the student body.”
Both Peller and Lasky said that they hope to reach a final decision by the end of the semester.
This article appeared in the November 2, 2006 issue of the Hatchet.