Currently, Barnes and Noble, the company that runs the campus bookstore, gets unlimited access to the UR student body. They are the only store that students who live on campus can get to without a car that sells pens, notebooks and, most importantly, textbooks.

Why do UR students gain nothing from the exclusivity granted to Barnes and Noble? It would seem logical that if Barnes and Noble were granted seemingly sole access to the student body, then in return, books and notebooks would be slightly discounted.

But contracts have been signed, so in all likelihood, it is too late to require Barnes and Noble to give some small discount. Instead, it is only responsible of the University to subsidize books as part of tuition payment or room and board. What students have seen as the alternative simply isn’t fair and brings down the level of academic quality here at UR.

As it stands, some can afford books and others cannot. What do those who can’t afford books do?

Students can wait for someone to be done with the one textbook put on reserve in the libraries. This means that students can’t do any work on their own time – rather, they have to wait in the library for the book to become available. Or, they can buy textbooks at used bookstores in Rochester. That, however, requires some sort of transportation to which students often don’t have access. Students can also buy books online, but then they are stuck waiting a week for delivery and have to struggle with starting the semester off behind the rest of their classmates.

The bookstore does try to make things easier – they buy and sell used books so that students can save a little money – but it isn’t nearly enough.

Professors need to make the effort, on behalf of the students, to have a clearly marked, updated syllabus on their Web sites as early as possible – before or as early as possible during semester break – so that students ordering books online have the opportunity they need. And, the University needs to begin to subsidize books for students so they can be affordable and give everyone an equal opportunity.

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