Later this semester, students will be charged an $.08 per page fee for printing at any of the printing centers around campus. The change is mainly to recover lost revenue from the library system after the library moved course reserves online and students were able to print free of charge.
Also, in a joint partnership between the Information Technology Services and the library department, a renovation is underway for the entire computerized printing system on the UR campus. Beginning a year and a half ago, an investigation was started in response to a high number of complaints about the existing system for printing documents, both in the computer lab area previously known as CLARC and Rush Rhees Library.
Long queues for printers, lost documents and slow and often broken printers were among the complaints voiced to Ron Dow, Dean of Libraries at UR. “[Slow printers] has been the number one complaint in the past year. If we have frustrated students, it’s not good,” he said.
Charging the students for printouts was decided upon as a necessary part of the plan. “We are not trying to make a profit off of this,” Dow said. “We are simply recovering the cost of the system.” Dow is also aware of student discontent with charging, but explained, “Obviously when you get something for nothing and then it’s not nothing anymore, there will be complaints.” Phil Ponella, director of ITS explained the “only way to afford it is to pass on charges to students.” But Dow also pointed out that this is the system “most replicated on other campuses” and is an affordable solution.
Dow said the current free system is a tremendous expense to maintain because of the amount of paper printed and the waste generated from excessive print jobs and abuse of the system. Ponella also noted this, saying , “waste has increased dramatically” from past years.
The volume of students using printers on campus is expected to diminish when the plan begins. At present, there are crowds many times at the ITS Center, generating large amounts of wasted paper. With the new system, numbers may drop with those students not wanting to pay and opting for alternate methods.
Over the summer, university officials met with Xerox to combine resources with the university, analyze the current problem and come up with a viable solution for fixing the situation. “The university approved buying the equipment in August, and [the printers] are currently here, on the loading dock at this moment,” Dow said.
The new printers, located at every library and computer lab, will be able to work at a capacity of 45-50 pages per minute, compared to the paltry 14 to 15 pages per minute of the existing printers. “They are designed to print more at a faster speed, and the servers will be able to hold longer print queues and print jobs faster,” Dow explained.
Regarding the progress of the plan, the printers will be placed “in the busiest areas first,” like the ITS center, and “a section at a time,” will be replaced in all areas. By as early as next week, new printers will be placed in the ITS Center and according to Ponella, by January, the installation process is hoped to be completed and running simultaneously in all areas.
Students will name their files to be printed, instruct computers to print and then proceed to one of the designated computers that will list all of the existing print jobs. The students will pick out which jobs they’d like to print out and will swipe their UR ID cards through for payment. Printing will be 8 cents a page and will be taken off the Flex account.
The computers will tell the student which printer their document can be retrieved at. Dow also explained the convenience of the new system. “It tells you where it’s printing, reducing the problem now of students trying to find what they’ve printed out,” he said.
The goal of the new system is to replace the existing cramped and problematic system with an overall faster and easier method for printing documents. “There is a desire to relieve pressure across the board,” Dow said. “It’s not only the students who are unhappy with the current system, it’s the workers and staff also.”
Student reaction was one of general discontent. “It’s ridiculous,” senior Guillermo Vidal said. “It shouldn’t be that way. We pay all this money to go here and where does it go?”
Other students felt it was unfair to be charged for required readings for classes. “I’m required to have articles,” sophomore Katie Rubin said. “It’s not fair to be charged for something all my professors require.”
It is not mandatory, however, for students to pay for printing at the ITS Center. Dow said that there is always the alternative of students downloading and printing files on their personal computers. Although many still find this disagreeable, it is an option, and it is not the intent to force students into paying. “The number one purpose of this plan is to satisfy the student community,” Dow said. “This system is something that is good. You get [printouts] when you need them, it is affordable and you have another alternative.”
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