The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff ed: Issues concerning distribution of newspaper

Every week, the S&B comes with an invisible price tag for each student. Through the Student Activities Fee—which is part of each students’ biannual payment to the school—writers, editors and photographers are paid in the same manner that other publications pay their staff or SGA pays its cabinet members.

But beyond student payrolls, each batch of approximately 1600 newspapers costs around $450 to print and deliver—or a little bit more than a quarter per student. Over the course of a semester, each student pays roughly $3 for the materials and labor that go into printing 12 issues of the S&B—a reasonable cost to bring the paper to campus.

But last Friday, it came to the attention of our staff that each week 800 hard copies of the S&B are distributed to the faculty and staff of the College soon after they are delivered to the JRC’s Mail Room. While the staff of the S&B aims to have students, faculty, staff and the larger community read the paper equally, and we are glad that college employees are given access to the paper, we do not approve of the subsidization of employee subscriptions via the Student Activity Fee.

Because of reasonable budget constraints, we are unable to print out enough copies to keep the Mail Room stocked past Sunday afternoon—not to mention enough for each student to have their own copy. If any group should have newspapers delivered to their mailbox, it should be the students—they are the ones who are bound to paying for the S&B.

But realistically speaking, we understand that not every student does opt to read the school paper. That’s why it makes economical sense for the papers to be available to each student, but not necessarily forced upon them—those who desire the publication can pick one up, and those who do not can leave one for the next person. That is why a batch of 1600 papers should be enough for every person who wants one—assuming that half are not preemptively put in the hands of faculty and staff, whether they ask for it or not. If the faculty and staff don’t want the copies they are given, there’s no opt-out beyond the trash can and a wasted paper.

One must also consider that we publish the paper online at in a browser-friendly format as well as a pdf version that is identical to our print copy. This makes the box service for many staff members obsolete. Most of us on staff agree that there’s nothing like a pulpy newspaper in your hands, but we also know that most are adapting to a paperless news world. If even 200 staff members began to read online, as many students already do, and the other 600 picked up a paper in the Mail Room, complaints of shortages would be fewer, or maybe print numbers could be lowered, saving money and trees.

In short, it is unfair to students to be required to front the money for an employee subscription service, financially and environmentally wasteful to indiscriminately hand out 16 pages of paper to hundreds of people who may not want a hard copy and, overall, an outdated policy that serves no purpose beyond providing convenience to some at great cost to others.

This week, the S&B will be delivered to 800 faculty and staff once again, so as to not suddenly disrupt a practice that has existed for an indeterminate number of years and leave those expecting a paper paperless. However, in the coming weeks, the S&B, the Student Publication and Radio Committee (SPARC) and Assistant Dean of Students and SPARC adviser Travis Greene will be reforming the policy. Preliminary conversations have included the possibility of delivering one S&B to each department, as well as continuing to supply the Trustees and Office of Admissions with an appropriate number of copies.

We are also looking into delivering the S&B to several locations on campus, so that students, faculty and staff don’t have to walk all the way to the JRC Mail Room to pick up a copy.

We are happy that the wider college community is reading the S&B, and hope they continue to do so. In an ideal world, we would have enough money to print one for each person that sets foot on this campus. As this is not the case, we want to provide an equal opportunity for each member of the Grinnell community to pick up a copy, at an equal convenience for everyone.

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