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USAC funds free access to The New York Times for UCLA students

The New York Times logo on a computer screen is pictured. UCLA undergraduate students now have free access to the NYTimes using their school email. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Lex Wang

Oct. 9, 2023 4:54 p.m.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that Jonathan Valenzuela Mejia is a fourth-year global studies and political science student. In fact, he is a fourth-year global studies and public affairs student.

This post was updated Oct. 10 at 10:53 p.m.

The Undergraduate Students Association Council is funding complimentary access to The New York Times starting this summer.

Over a year following Financial Supports Commissioner Sara Broukhim’s initial campaign promise to provide students access to the Times, the FSC has used approximately $31,000 in surplus funds to broker a yearlong deal with the highly-circulated news organization. Students can sign up to receive access using their UCLA-affiliated email address through the 2023-2024 academic year.

Broukhim, who is also a fourth-year cognitive science and political science student, said she felt Bruins should have access to the Times for classes and extracurricular research, as well as to limit the spread of misinformation among students. With many also facing financial barriers in paying for the service themselves, Broukhim said she wanted to support the undergraduate class with the necessary resources to stay fully informed.

General Representative Gabby Lasry, who was also Broukhim’s chief of staff last year, said she feels a crucial component of the undergraduate educational experience is engaging with politics, the arts and the sciences, among other fields, which access to the Times supplies.

“Providing students with a free New York Times subscription was necessary to ensure that students have access to trusted information,” said Lasry, who is also a fourth-year political science student. “It’s important for our students specifically to be … well-informed on several issues, and for that, they need access to a reliable news source.”

Broukhim, who approached the UCLA Library about this contract, said the library already provides PDF articles for students, meaning it did not feel the need to provide the initiative.

Instead, Broukhim said she and other USAC representatives, including Lasry and General Representative Jonathan Valenzuela Mejia, decided to work directly with a Times representative because she still hoped to fund a full subscription to the Times. After applying for an estimated $40,000 from USAC originally, the deal was offered to UCLA for what essentially amounted to less than one dollar per undergraduate student, Broukhim said.

Valenzuela Mejia, who is also a fourth-year global studies and public affairs student, said interest in such a program subsidized by USAC has always been high, adding that members of USAC had looked into it in previous years.

“It started as an initiative from the (2020-2021) Office of the President at the time of the Naomi Riley administration,” he said. “I figured that that initiative had to go somewhere – I refused for it to die out.”

However, Broukhim said there may not be a guarantee that access will continue past next June because of uncertainty surrounding future funding. Every winter, a certain amount of surplus money will be allocated to the various initiatives that officers plan to sponsor, Valenzuela Mejia said.

USAC is currently looking into more permanent sources to finance this initiative, Broukhim said, including working with other campus organizations or reapplying for surplus funding. Valenzuela Mejia said he would prefer to subsidize the cost as opposed to increasing student fees using the referendum process because he feels additional fees would unnecessarily burden students.

In the future, USAC also hopes to expand to options that include graduate students and faculty as well, Broukhim said. Should demand for other subscriptions arise, Broukhim added that they would consider working with other media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, too.

Valenzuela Mejia said UCLA is among one of the later UC schools to obtain this deal, with UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC San Diego and UC Irvine already offering Times subscriptions to students.

“It’s one of the many ways that USAC is actively trying to hear its student population,” Valenzuela Mejia said. “This year in particular, the administration has been very centered on transparency, on accountability, as well as providing more resources to the student body overall – and I think this New York Times subscription is just one of the many ways that the student government is trying to expand its reach and support all facets of student life.”

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Lex Wang | Enterprise editor
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
Wang is the 2023-2024 Enterprise editor. Previously, she was the 2022-2023 Opinion editor, and prior to that, an assistant Opinion editor. She is Arts and Quad staff and also contributes to News, Sports on the men's volleyball beat, Copy, Design, Photo and Video.
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