Saturday, May 26, 2018

Printing dollars inadequate to match needs of Trinity students




We’re almost at Spring Break. It’s so close. But before you rejoice in the comfort and freedom of warmer climates, we need to get through midterms. However, to get through midterms, we need to print. And so begins my commentary on the long debated issue of printing dollars.

We get 20 dollars a semester, no rollovers. But would having the dollars roll over make a difference? If you’re like me, then you ran out of printing dollars two weeks ago. High five for being an English major!

Let me check my math for a second. 10 cents a page, divide that into 20… 20 dollars of printing gets you 200 pages, as long as none of them are in color. But when you have articles and notes to print out to study for your test and create your papers, you thank God for professors who let you email them your papers. Thank you, kind sirs.

For some people, this isn’t an issue at all. Perhaps you’ve got a printer, or just don’t print that much. Well good for you, care to help out a friend? The issue varies across different majors. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t seem like anyone prints as much as English majors. Some of us have 20 pages of printing a week, without papers or the articles we need to write said papers. Some of us have to print out drafts of stories that can be anywhere from five to 30 pages. Printing dollars should reflect printing needs, and right now that doesn’t happen. Research papers within upper level English classes are at minimum 10 pages, and can go even up to 50 pages. Even research papers for other classes, such as Italian or Buddhist Art, require at least 10 pages.

What about students writing their theses? A thesis can be anywhere from 40 to 50 pages, or some even longer than that. If they only print it once, then they should be fine, but considering drafts and chapters need to be submitted in segments and resubmitted, students will quickly realize they can’t afford to buy coffee at Peter B’s, because they need to pay for printing. Do the departments allot any money for students printing theses? They don’t. Students have to pay themselves, because they school doesn’t meet their needs. I’m looking forward to writing my thesis now. For students who are double majors, may the force be with them. I can’t imagine how much printing they need to do.

Printing is strictly monitored on campus, which is why professors have a limit to how much they print. Yet professors should consider their printing needs, and the printing needs of students. If a professor doesn’t have required textbooks and asks you to print a lot, students shouldn’t complain. However, if a professor requires students to buy eight different books for class, and also makes them print out articles upon articles for class, it’s a bit aggressive.

There’s also the issue of professors who don’t allow laptops or iPads or electronic readers. It’s not fair to require so many readings, but not give allow us to bring our laptops, inevitably forcing us to print them out if we want to be prepared for class. Even when we are allowed to bring laptops and such, it’s really annoying to have to read things electronically. I won’t get into how against my beliefs it is to read books on an iPad or Kindle, but the point is that some things need to be looked at on paper. I need to feel the pages, and know where I’ve highlighted and such. I know that certain devices let you highlight and mark pages, but sometimes I only know where certain quotes of information are based on the feel. Things need to be in print. It helps us for when we have assignments due to have everything spread out in front of us, organized and ready for use.

If professors know ahead of time that they will be using a lot of articles and documents for their classes, why not create course packs at the beginning of the semester? We would be paying 15 dollars or so at the beginning of the year, which is not a huge difference from printing dollars, but it would allow us to pace our dollars. We would consider those course pack costs to be the equivalent of textbooks, and account for them. Art history is one of the departments that do this, and some professors individually.

Professors also vary on whether or not to allow students to email their assignments. It’s an inconvenience to them, and there is also the possibility that students will take advantage. “I’m sorry professor, the printer was broken, can I email it to you?” is generally code for “I didn’t finish the assignment so I’m going to pretend I did and email it later.” Professors can only be so nice, and so I don’t blame the ones who have changed their policies and don’t allow email submissions anymore. Besides, professors get so many emails it’s hard to keep track and things will eventually get lost.

But really, thank unicorns and fairies for professors who let us email.

The other side of this issue is the environment. Is the school limiting our printing dollars in an effort to be eco-friendly? Possibly. But it’s hard to believe that’s the case when we look at all the useless printing that does occur on campus. Papers are wasted constantly, and not recycled, and dormitories are truly lacking in recycle bins. If the school is trying to be eco-friendly, then we should consider dollars rolling over, or being distributed among majors better.

I’m not sure the solution to this problem, because it isn’t really something everyone has an issue with. A lot of people go all semester without using their printing dollars. That hasn’t happened to me since first semester freshman year, but I know that these lucky darlings exist. There are also the people who have unlimited bantam bucks, and don’t worry about printing. But really, if I keep up all this printing, I’ll never be able to do my laundry. And no one wants that.

Perhaps unused printing dollars should be allowed to roll over from semester to semester. Perhaps students should be allowed to transfer printing dollars to each other. Also, thank Hogwarts for friends who keep letting me use their printing dollars.

Yet maybe printing dollars should be adjusted to reflect the needs of the different majors. The school can look at how much printing students use and eventually once students have declared, the school can add or remove printing dollars. The school’s tuition is hefty, besides other costs. The other costs are generally estimated to allow for travel, food, books and such but printing is a really important cost. It’s just a matter of consideration on everyone’s part. If the school, and professors, could consider how much they’re going to force their students to print, they need to multiply that by four or five for all of our classes. Is all of that covered by just 20 printing dollars?

Printing in general is frustrating when trying to get to a library printer before the crowd comes in, and having to deal with jammed printers that they tell you not to fix even though it’s really simple to fix. Even personal printers need paper and ink, and maybe we should understand that things aren’t perfect. But printing dollars is a relatively simply thing to fix, so let’s do it.

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