The University of Florida serves over 47,000 students in the Tampa Florida area. This is the university’s eighth year participating in the Collegiate Readership Program. Recently, Diane Harris, Regional Marketing Manager for USA TODAY, spoke with Briana Jones, Director of University and Community Affairs at the University of South Florida and the Collegiate Readership Program liaison for Student Government at University of South Florida regarding the Collegiate Readership Program, the integration on the campus and the benefits of integrating the Program on campus.
Diane Harris: What are your primary goals for University of South Florida’s Collegiate Readership Program?
Briana Jones:The primary goal for the Tampa campus is to have better availability for newspapers and provide easy access for students to be informed about what going in the world beyond the walls of the campus.
Harris: What steps have you taken to accomplish these goals?
Jones:With the help of our contact at USA TODAY and the partnership of SGA and the campus facilities division we were able to find more locations to place displays on campus to reach students where they spend the most time. Additionally, we have been able to add four new distribution locations this year.
Harris: Has the Collegiate Readership Program met the expectations of your institution?
Jones:Yes, thus far, and we hope to see a lot more growth. We are currently working on a plan to market the program to students and faculty more effectively for next school year. We want them to be aware of all the great resources on campus to stimulate positive activity and meaningful dialogue.
Harris: How does the students’ daily access to newspapers help keep them engaged with civic issues?
Jones:Access to a daily newspaper on campus has tremendous impact. The Collegiate Readership displays are strategically placed near our student newspapers. This helps students keep up with what’s happening on campus, but also provides a broad depth of information on national and international news.
A good example came up with the recent issues in Sanford, FL. The Trayvon Martin case prompted students to organize a rally. Likewise, Joseph Kony and the Invisible Children movement provided another strong example of why we need credible news sources on campus. Students were able to compare and contrast the different stories being aired or posted on blogs, etc. Students were truly engaged and having fact-based resources allowed them the opportunity to act, or not act, based on what they’ve read in the newspapers.
Harris: Have you noticed a stronger impact through the past couple of political elections?
Jones:Of course. This campus is notable for hosting candidates — local as well as national — and debates on campus. The interest will be especially high this summer when the Republican National Convention is here in Tampa.
Harris: What do you believe are the main educational benefits of the Collegiate Readership Program?
Jones:Maintaining a strong emphasis on the importance of reading every day, encouraging civic awareness and the need for students to get factual information from a source other than just Google or Wikipedia, where information can be edited and altered.
Harris: What has the students’ response been?
Jones:Student Government recognizes the feedback in a more engaged student body. Students enjoy the availability and access for all students.
Harris: How would you sum up The Collegiate Readership Program for other interested schools?
Jones:The world is a dynamic and ever-changing place. It is imperative to have credible news sources to be able to navigate in it effectively. I would recommend it to any school that has the opportunity to participate; they should definitely indulge in their education!
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