The "Be Current" initiative is the latest project of MichaelAaron Flicker '05, Jayshree Mahtani '06 and the Quality of Student Life Committee. (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
Campaign Seeks to Help Students 'Be Current'
Undergraduates organize free distribution of newspapers on campus
By Reid Oslin
Boston College students now have a choice of four complimentary newspapers to go along with their morning coffee, and organizers of the giveaway hope their fledging campaign will help put the student body in closer touch with world events.
Since last Monday, free copies of The New York Times, Boston Globe, Boston Herald and The Economist have been distributed at various points on campus as part of "Be Current," a project of BC's four-year-old Quality of Student Life Committee launched mainly through the efforts of two of its members, MichaelAaron Flicker '05 and Jayshree Mahtani '06.
"The newspaper program is a response to what we felt was students not connecting their academic learning and their extracurricular activities to the global community," said Mahtani, an economics major in the College of Arts and Sciences. "Many kids get caught in what we like to call 'the BC bubble,' focused only on what is happening in our own community and on campus.
"We thought most students needed a way to connect to the outside community and learn more about what is happening in the world," Mahtani said.
All four newspapers will be available in the foyers of the Hillside Café and the Boston College Bookstore in McElroy Commons, near the Starbucks in McElroy Commons, in the entrance atrium to the Lower Campus Dining Hall and in bins at the Stuart Hall bus stop on the Newton Campus.
The "Be Current" campaign is the latest achievement for Flicker and his fellow Quality of Student Life Committee members, who in the past few years have started several initiatives aimed at improving the out-of-classroom experience for BC students.
Mahtani and Flicker studied similar newspaper programs at other schools and persuaded newspaper publishers to deliver their product free of charge to the BC campus. They then sold the idea to the University's academic, student affairs and facilities management administrators.
"Everybody agreed that the need to connect learning inside the classroom with the global community - as is the Jesuit mission - far outweighed the skepticism about problems," said Flicker, a philosophy and political science major who founded the Quality of Student Life Committee as a freshman in 2001.
The group selected two publications with generally liberal views, the Times and the Globe, along with two mostly conservative papers, the Herald and The Economist.
"There was some concern that we were bringing only certain viewpoints on to campus," Flicker said. "We would love to have 70 newspapers in our distribution program, but there are realistically only so many that you can have."
Flicker said this is the first time that distributors of The Economist, a highly respected weekly publication, have agreed to join a college readership program. "We worked hard to get them because we felt it was an important news source for us," he said.
Flicker started the Quality of Student Life Committee when he was living on the Newton Campus. "At the time, I felt that there was not a way for people to constructively make suggestions [to the administration]. Not just to complain, but to make constructive ideas on how we could help make things better."
Flicker and five of his fellow Newton Campus residents convinced Boston College Dining Services to expand the menu offerings available in Stuart Hall and persuaded the Office of Residential Life to allocate additional space as meeting and recreation rooms for students living on that campus.
"As sophomores, we figured that the committee was something the entire Boston College community could use, so we started in earnest," recalls Flicker. After the start of the war in Iraq, the group successfully petitioned Campus Ministry to open the multi-faith chapel in the 66 Commonwealth Avenue residence hall for extended hours as a gathering place for students who wanted to share their feelings and concerns about the conflict.
Another initiative led to additional weekend operating hours for the campus parking office, so that students arriving back at BC on Sunday evenings could properly register their vehicles for short-term parking privileges. The committee also worked with the Office of Residential Life to establish new residence hall access hours for students using Eagle-One cards to enter buildings.
This year, Flicker's group, which now includes 24 members from all four undergraduate classes, successfully proposed the lengthening of the "Drop/Add" registration period from seven days to seven business days, thus giving students additional time to make academic course choices, Flicker said.
The committee has also lobbied for earlier opening times in the Lower Campus Dining Hall and the installation of an ATM in the popular dining facility.