As of this semester, the new print system that was installed campus-wide in October has been completely implemented. However, several key changes to the system have been made in response to issues raised by members of the Students’ Association Cabinet and Senate. Most importantly, instead of paying for all printing on Flex, River Campus students now have a pre-established printing account linked to their term bill. The account starts with a $10 credit, allowing every student to print 125 pages this semester free of charge.The original implementation of the new system was conceived by Information Technology Services and River Campus Libraries and installed at most locations in October with successful results. “The process of how it works is much smoother, in general, than the previous system. It seems to work well,” ITS Center Manager Alfred Padeletti said.The system consists of new equipment and software which allows print jobs to be queued until sent to a printer through a “print release station” at each location. According to Pedeletti, crowding of the print area by students waiting for print jobs and excess waste have both reduced since the new system was installed.The initial proposal called for a charge of $.08 per black and white page and $.50 per color page printed. The fee was to be assessed on each user’s Flex account. However, the prospect of charging students in this way was determined undesirable by the SA Cabinet and Senate. SA subcommittees were convened to address these issues with the administration.
According to SA President and senior Lonny Mallach, the SA saw two key problems with the system. First, if students must pay in advance to put money on Flex before they can print, they could be at a disadvantage academically for not having a Flex account or cash on hand.
“What if you don’t have Flex or cash and you have a final coming up? We can’t penalize people for not having money at the time,” Mallach said.Dean of River Campus Libraries Ron Dow, one of the key proponents of the new system, agreed with the SA on this issue. “Printing is so essential to learning and we don’t want to put a student in a situation of choosing between eating and printing,” Dow said.
The other major issue raised by SA Cabinet and Senate members was the idea that, since printing is at least partly academic in nature, part of the costs should be covered by tuition. According to Dow, faculty members have also raised this issue. “They somehow believe it should be a cost of instruction and should be absorbed by the system,” Dow said.
All together, the Dean’s Office, ITS, Library Services, and the SA came up with a solution they deemed satisfactory.
“I think what went on was really great student leadership. We’re pretty pleased with the outcome and we hope students are too,” Dean of Students Jody Asbury said.
Mallach, for one, was happy with the solution. “On the part of those involved, it was a whole lot of work and things worked out well,” he said.Under the new plan, each department helped to subsidize a new account established only for printing.
The account begins this semester with a balance of $10 and can only be used at print stations on the River Campus.
Students may add money to the account at the ITS Center Help Desk or on the new printing Web site. Additional funds added will then credit to that student’s term bill. In this way, students can print when they need to and worry about payment at a later date.
Although Dow agrees that the change was an improvement, he expressed some concerns regarding its effect on revenue. According to Dow, the original proposal was developed so that the system could pay for itself over time.
The new account will increase the overall cost of the system, since some of what students will print this semester will be covered by the initial $10 balance. “It is a risk we are assuming but we are assuming it with some degree of analysis,” Dow said.
Next semester, each student’s printing account will be reset back to $10. At that time, according to Dow, the $10 will have to last the entire year.
Although an e-mail explaining the change was sent out to all undergraduate students, many are still unaware of the new process.
“[The email] was probably deleted as junk,” freshman Marie Mayer said, “but I think it’s a good thing that they are at least making an effort to make it more fair.”
Some other students are not as satisfied. “I think it is good that the university gave us some funds to start off with, but it seems a little ridiculous to me to have to pay for printing at all,” senior Dan Lioy said.Junior Adam Comis agrees that charging may help cut down waste, but is unhappy with the price of $.08 per page. “It should definitely be less per page. It should be just enough so people don’t go crazy,” Comis said.For more information about the new printing system or to add funds to a printing account, visit http://www.rochester.edu/printing/.