High price of ink irks students

By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Students absorb printing costs as UA budgets shrink

UA budget cuts have reduced department funds for distribution of class materials, and students say it's affecting their pocketbooks.

Some students say printing syllabi, class notes and homework assignments off the Internet is wasting their ink supply and said their academic departments should pay the costs of the paper being printed for their classes.

William Dixon, political science department head, said budget cuts have affected the way professors distribute materials in political science classes.

Dixon said the political science department tries to accommodate students' needs by distributing as many materials as it can in classes, but many times professors choose to post materials on the Web because they think it is more convenient for students.

"We try and support our students the best we can," he said.

But some students believe the support isn't there and say printing class materials on their own isn't convenient or cost effective.

Matt Laskin, an anthropology junior, said he thinks the administration or academic departments can find ways to make the $1,000 tuition increase pay for printing of class materials.

"We pay tuition, buy books and sit through class taking notes. Why can't a professor just take a small amount of responsibility to have materials arranged for their students?" Laskin said. "All these materials cost money to print out and money is tight enough as it is for a student."

Rachel Lepold, a journalism junior, agreed and said it would save her a lot of time and said she would be more organized if her professors distributed class materials during lecture rather than posting it online.

"I'm not computer-savvy at all, so sometimes going online to find things is nearly impossible for me," she said.

But, J.P. Jones, geography and regional development department head, said his department isn't affected by budget cuts and even encourages professors in the department to post materials online.

Jones said posting materials online rather than distributing them in class is more convenient for students. He said students don't need a copy of an assignment or a syllabus if it can be found online which allows students access from anywhere.

"This is an access to technology students should have, and it will eventually change the way people disseminate their work," he said.

David Watt, an economics senior, agreed that it can be more convenient for students whose teachers post class materials online because most of the time the papers passed out in class are lost or thrown away.

"I think it is a convenience to be able to reference assignments or readings online, old or new," he said.

But Watt said students without computers or printers at home, who rely on on-campus computers, could be accruing unnecessary charges and be inconvenienced because of the constant trips to places like the Manuel T. Pacheco Integrated Learning Center.

However, some off-campus stores have offered help for students who find themselves strapped for cash.

Students can bring their empty cartridges to any OfficeMax store to be recycled and receive a free ream of recycled paper. According to the OfficeMax Web site, the deal applies to all printer cartridges except Epson and Canon brands with ink tanks because they cannot be refilled.

Laskin said the OfficeMax offer is a step in the right direction, but said the cost of replacing ink cartridges is where all the money is spent.

Laskin said he has to print upwards of 20 pages of readings every week from electronic reserves, which he said are upside down and unreadable online unless the document is printed.

"It's bullshit," he said. "I've gone through three ink cartridges already, which usually last me at least a semester."

Lepold also said the OfficeMax offer is intriguing, but said it wouldn't help her pay for her $20 ink cartridge replacements.

Lepold said she had to print at least 10 pages of notes for each day of class during freshman year, and this year had to learn how to go on electronic reserves, which she said took her over an hour to figure out because the teacher did not give out the password for the Web site.

"It sucked," she said. "I had to sit on the phone with other students while we all tried to guess the password."

Students said departments should offer some solutions to the printing predicament.

Watt said he would like to see professors post materials online and hand out hard copies of class materials to those who want it, but said it isn't necessary to distribute a copy to every student.

Laskin said purchasing a class notes packet at the beginning of the semester should be mandatory for students in classes in which departments can't afford to make copies more readily available to students. That way, students don't have to continually print materials out every week, he said.