Students recently may have noticed that the New York Times crossword they were hoping to solve is absent from the racks of Thorne and Moulton. Around three weeks ago, USA Today, the Brunswick Times-Record, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe all stopped delivery to campus.
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), which provides the newspapers to students, initially figured that the delivery man might be sick.
"Sometimes there are off days where the delivery guy was sick so that is why BSG didn't do anything," William Donahoe, vice president of student organizations and communications director, said.
After several days without paper deliveries however, Vice President of Facilities Michael Dooley '10 received a call from a representative at USA Today. According to Dooley, the representative informed him that Bowdoin's subscription had been cut back because the College was on track to run over budget.
Under the deal negotiated at the beginning of the year, BSG paid a flat fee of $9,000, an estimation of the year's cost set by USA Today for daily newspaper delivery. This quote, however, was contingent on all left-over newspapers being collected and recycled, which greatly reduced the price.
Although it was believed that $9,000 would be sufficient for the year, far fewer newspapers were returned than expected, and Bowdoin would have been $3,500 over the initial fee if it continued to receive deliveries daily.
"I think what went wrong was that the USA Today business managers had used a calculation that figured we would receive many more credits than we received...their theoretical math didn't match up with what really transpired," said Dooley, who was away from campus this week, wrote in an e-mail to the Orient.
Claire Collery '11 was upset with the recent lack of newspapers.
"I'm actually not that surprised because there are never any left when I go to get one anyway," she said. "Everyone should just put them back."
Donahoe pointed out that it wasn't just students to blame for the missing newspapers.
"Last year, a dining hall student employee told me that professors [will] take a stack and bring them back to their department," he said.
Donahoe said BSG discussed several options last year to help make sure newspapers were returned, including having to swipe for newspapers to limit them to students or having people handing them out at the entrance to the dining hall. Neither of these ideas seemed particularly feasible, Donahoe said.
Collery had another idea. "They should put the newspapers on sticks like in the library," she said.
Despite the three-week newspaper shortage, BSG expects them to return soon. Dooley has been in communication with the USA Today representative and is near to closing a deal which will bring the papers back. Under the proposed idea, USA Today would provide the papers for the rest of the year at no additional cost to Bowdoin or BSG.
"They just like us, basically," Donahoe said. "We're customers. It seemed to me that it wasn't up to us; they just had a wrong estimation [so they are willing to provide the rest of the newspapers for free]."