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Bellingham
Monday, July 6, 2020

A letter to the editor

Hello, I am Brandon Lane, I am writing to you in response to your editorial piece The Times they are a-changin’.

Last year, I sat on the AS Budget Committee as a Student at Large and was involved in the process by which the New York Times subscription was defunded. To be clear I fully agree with your point about student access to reliable information being essential to a healthy campus and community. The reason that the Times was defunded was because it was incredibly inequitable in the way it was distributed.

Under the NYT contract, there are two ways that students could get access to the paper. Either, picking up a physical copy or going through a convoluted system for getting online access. Both distribution methods had an explicit cap of 175 physical papers and 175 online codes. That means that if in theory every single paper and app code was utilized then the maximum number of people that could have access to this information was 350 students, for reference, western has roughly 15,000 students.

Illustration by Cole Sandhofer

That in mind, the number of physical papers used rarely reached the full 175 and almost no one used the online code because it was so complicated even the entire committee could not figure it out.

The reason the Wall Street Journal was proposed as an alternative was due to them offering full-time digital access to all students and faculty. It was not, as your piece suggested, because of its editorial leaning or it being more cost-effective, it was actually more expensive than the NYT.

As someone appointed to that committee to represent the student body I could not in good faith back this arrangement where 100 percent of the students had to pay money for a service that at most less than 3 percent of the students could access at any given time.

Far from being some way to save money at the expense of students we did this because of the inherent inaccessibility of this arrangement.

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