Keeping current with the world

Elizabeth Rund

Some students are on top of their game when it comes to consuming the daily news

People from 14 states across the country have reported cases of salmonella after eating puffed rice and puffed cereal. Former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Al Gore are working together to get Hillary Clinton off the campaign trail. The United States is giving aid to 78 countries around the world.

For some, keeping up with current events is an absolute must, but are classes and professors that require constant attention to such news stories actually making students more aware of the world around them?


Areas where USA Today and The New York Times papers are distributed to students for free:

Student Center, Bowman Hall, Business Administration Building, Kent Hall, Franklin Hall, Music and Speech Building, Prentice Hall, Eastway Center, Stewart Hall

“Book education is a joke,” freshman exploratory major Kelsey Rodway said. “Being aware of what is around you will teach you more than a book.”

With the upcoming presidential election full of firsts, more students seem to be paying attention to the news. To help them along, the Undergraduate Student Government and the Kent Interhall Council have joined forces to provide students with free copies of USA Today and The New York Times through the Collegiate Readership Program.

According to Katie Hale, former Undergraduate Student Senate executive director and senior political science and sociology major, the program has also been instrumental in bringing guest speakers like John Kiftner to campus as well as creating programs like ‘Tuesday with The New York Times.’ Tuesdays with the Times allows students to discuss current events while a professor moderates the conversation.

“It is absolutely essential to be on top of current events,” Hale said.

Although the campaigns of each candidate are focusing heavily on multimedia resources to attract the younger voters, Hale said there is still a need for newspapers.

“The program allows students to have a more broad concept of the world and be able to contribute,” she said.

Rodway disagreed and said there isn’t a need for newspapers.

“I would rather watch television, like most of our generation,” Rodway said. “It’s more engaging to watch moving visuals.”

Most students agree that keeping up with what is going on in the country is a good thing, especially in this ever-changing economy.

Brandon McClure, freshman computer technology major, said he probably reads the paper every day.

“I like to pick up all of them if I can,” he said. “But I am restricted to what I can find.”

Both Hale and Avery Danage, freshman music composition and piano performance major and director of KIC business operations, have noticed how fast the papers seem to be flying off the racks.

“We’ve seen that students are taking them and they are gone in Eastway by 1 p.m.,” Danage said.

According to Hale, the USG has talked about expanding the program to include more buildings. Right now the USG is responsible for the distribution of papers in six buildings.

“Absolutely, we are looking at ways to expand it because it is gaining in popularity and we are running out of papers,” Hale said.

In fact, Danage stated that during the 2007 Fall semester, 8,090 papers were read in three residence halls where KIC distributes them. That averages out to 108 read daily.

Eastway Center seems to be the largest consumer of papers on a daily basis with Prentice and Stewart Halls coming in second and third. Danage said the number is high at Eastway because it is a place where students like to gather.

“Students go to Eastway to hangout or do homework,” he said.

Hale said the program works with professors and their respective departments to integrate USA Today and The New York Times into their classes.

“You can’t force people to care, but sometimes we try to,” Hale commented.

When professors hold students accountable for knowing current event related issues, it can do one of two things: either turn the student off completely or inspire them to acquire a deeper understanding of the social, political and economic policies that affect their lives.

Although Shawn Roberson, freshman business operations major, admits to picking up a paper every once in awhile, he said

he found himself keeping up with current events for a class.

“I read it for a different reason; it wasn’t for leisure,” he said.

While some professors may expect students to follow current events, others shy away from making it a course requirement.

“I spend, at most, 10 minutes talking about current events at the beginning of class,” said Jason MacDonald, assistant political science professor.

MacDonald said he hates the idea of talking about current events all the time. Current events should be used, when applicable, to illustrate the material that is being learned about in class, he said.

Jane Beckett-Camarata, also an assistant political science professor, seconds MacDonald’s statement.

Beckett-Camarata said that she tries to stay away from requiring students to keep up with current events.

“You apply the material to real world situations,” she said. “That’s where the real learning takes place.”

“I hope that when students come out of my class they have an understanding of why political outcomes come out the way they do,” MacDonald added.

Both professors agreed that the readership program is a good idea and hope to see it expand.

Contact features reporter Elizabeth Rund at [email protected].