Editorial: Elimination of Readership Program a major error in judgment

With an abundance of other, less beneficial programs to cut, the decision to cut the Mizzou Readership Program is a huge misstep.

Effective July 2015, the Department of Student Life has decided to defund the Mizzou Readership Program, which fills MU’s newsstands with daily papers free to students.

Student Life will absorb the program’s budget, which is comprised entirely of student fee allocations. The decision came as Student Life faces a 2-percent budget cut, resulting in a loss of approximately $250,000 over the next four years. Eighty percent of the funds from the readership program will be allocated toward the deficit, while the remaining 20 percent will go toward hiring an RSVP educator, a new position required by Title IX. The Student Fee Review Committee and Mark Lucas, director of Student Life, cited the program’s declining consumption among students on campus.

Student Life is making a major mistake in cutting the readership program. Despite its declining popularity on campus, the readership program gives students the opportunity to educate themselves on current events and become more knowledgeable about the world around them. This program has created positive and vital externalities for our campus. While not all students used the program on a regular basis, or not at all, the program improved our campus and the minds of students that attend this university.

Had the readership program been properly advertised and marketed, as junior Gunnar Johanson intended to do while he served as Director of Student Communications within the Missouri Students Association, the program would have been more utilized by students all around campus. But when Johanson left his position, these plans lost direction and the marketing team he created went nowhere under new leadership.

We recognize Student Life’s purpose to provide students with fun social activities. The department also claims to “promote student learning beyond the classroom,” according to its website. If this is truly the case, then why was it suggested to the SFRC and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs to cut an entire program that effectively lives up to this very statement? The Department of Student Life’s focus on prioritizing more “fun” activities over meaningful, educational programs like the Mizzou Readership Program is incredibly disappointing.

Why not make cuts in less educational programs, such as Mizzou After Dark or on-campus concerts? Why not cut a few of the newspapers from the readership program, and then make additional cuts to other student programs? Why not look to receive an outside grant? This decision was made with little to no creativity, which is disconcerting to see.

When making decisions such as this in the future, we implore the Department of Student Life to be transparent and determine what students find important. With no surveys and no polls to measure what students wanted to keep on campus, Student Life effectively has taken away one of the most practical, beneficial programs they had to offer.

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