College Council (CC) approved the remaining piece of a plan to put 128 Sunday New York Times newspapers in common areas around campus.
The proposal, spearheaded by CC Secretary Ami Parekh ’01 and CC representative Todd Rogers ’01, has already received support from the college administration and the Housing Committee. According to proponents of the plan, the aim is to end the political apathy on campus.
The first shipment of the New York Times was distributed to the campus this Sunday. “After the first day of deliveries we are very encouraged by the student response,” Rogers said.
“We were most encouraged by the way the small houses on campus, Mission and the first-year entries received the Sunday New York Times. Walking through the Mission landings we saw groups of people lounging around after brunch each reading different sections of the paper. One person came up to us in the stairwell, excited about the way an article in the Times had sparked a 30-minute discussion with one of her suitemates. That was very satisfying.”
The plan, which is to cost $6924 over the second semester, was approved by CC 24-4 with three members abstaining. CC allotted the final $1800 necessary to implement the new program. The administration had already agreed to provide $3500 and Housing Committee pledged in its meeting on Feb. 7 to provide $1624.
At last Wednesday’s meeting, the general consent among CC members was that something needed to be done about the lack of political discussion on campus. A few members voiced concerns about the exact way to combat the problem. Some expressed doubts as to whether the New York Times was the best and most financially responsible way to jumpstart student political dialogue.
CC Treasurer Nelson Hioe ’00 said that he would have like to have seen a survey taken of student preferences. Hioe added that maybe a news magazine such as Time or Newsweek or possibly the Wall Street Journal would be more appropriate and probably cheaper.
However, the general consensus among CC however was that the Sunday Times was the best alternative. Supporters of that plan argued that it was a great way to open up common spaces and facilitate discussions among students. Representative Carrie Ryan ’00 noted that “one objective is to get people talking.” CC representative Joe Masters ’02 said that if this plan is not successful it could be modified after the semester.
Although most CC members agreed with the idea behind the plan, despite opponents citing students’ online access to the New York Times, the logistics of delivery caused the most discussion among students.
The overall goal of Parekh and Rogers was to make each paper accessible to between seven and 20 Williams students.
However concerns arose over the allotment of the papers. The problem, according to Parekh, was the design of social spaces within dorms on campus. The layout of certain dorms did not facilitate obvious locations for delivery
Representatives in dorms where few papers had been allotted voiced most of the concerns. According to the representative of East and Fayerweather, Hall O’Donnell ’03, Fay 1 is to receive only one copy of the paper even though the entry has over 25 people in it. Similarly, Elizabeth Moulton ’02 was concerned to see only two papers reaching her constituents in Prospect.
The problems of the inequality of allocation were perpetuated by the unbelievably high number of papers to be delivered to the Greylock Quad.
In response to this confusion, Parekh said that she and CC were willing to work on better solutions.
Despite the problems surrounding paper placement, CC recognized the need to promote political discussion on campus.
“The spirit of the proposal remains the same,” Rogers said. “To facilitate greater political awareness on campus, to combat the proverbial ‘Purple Bubble.’”