The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Staff ed: Possibility of paying to print is provocative

Here at Grinnell, we students enjoy a tremendous amount of technological freedom. That’s why the announcement by Bill Francis, head of Information Technology Services, that he has begun writing a program intended to charge students for printing, has gotten us thinking about how and when excess technological costs should be reigned in.

Initially, the idea of charging students to print may sound unfair, but because the reasoning and system of charging are still unknown, it is an important time to make sure any policy treats the students and the budget fairly. A proper system would discourage excessive and unnecessary printing, while allowing for the continuation of free, responsible printing for academic and extra-curricular purposes.

If a charge per print system is going to be instituted, it is imperative that students have significant input on how it functions. There are far too many aspects of the program that could completely disadvantage students and Grinnell College as a whole. For example, professors often expect students to print out numerous pages of reading a week—to do homework, students could potentially be charged.

Currently, professors have the ability to track the number of pages of documents accessed. A well thought-out system could incorporate data of this type to insure that students are not charged for the things they are required to print.

Another common use for printing is announcing events via posters. As of now, Grinnell has no better way to spread word of events than by taping dozens of posters around campus. Limiting the ability to advertise events by making it unreasonably expensive could be damaging to the overall Grinnell campus culture. These two factors, as well as a plethora of other potential problems, must be worked out in an open dialogue between ITS and students to ensure nobody is exploited.

In crafting our own system, examining the endeavors of our peer institutions is a good place to start discussion. Whitman College, an institution very similar to Grinnell, credits students with 1,200 pages per semester, and once they overrun that total, they begin to pay five cents per page. While a carbon-copy of this system may not work at Grinnell, surely some inspiration can be drawn from this, or other schools’ programs.
So ITS, please come to us with ideas and we will return with our own, hopefully leading to a genuine compromise that both reduces waste and does not empty our change purses.

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