University examines excessive lab printing

Students and faculty printing documents in campus computer labs may have to pay for some of their copies in the fall, said Jack Siggins, University librarian.

Because of the astronomical number of documents students and faculty were printing out at free terminals around campus and the cost posed to different departments, a subcommittee was formed to devise a plan to defray the cost assumed by the University, Siggins said.

The Information Technology Policies and Systems Committee created a proposal that suggested a 250-free copy limit and a 10-cent charge for every copy past the limit. The proposal is currently being reviewed by the larger committee, the Information Technology Advisory Committee, of which Siggins is a member.

We know there’s a major problem, Siggins said. We know there’s a challenge.

Siggins said ITAC has not decided how many free copies, if any, students will receive or how much additional copies will cost. He said the committee is also trying to decide how it can track the number of copies each student makes, either through GWorld cards or through a login system on the computers.

Siggins said many members of the committee would like to see the new plan in place by next semester, but he wants to make sure all plans are ironed out before the plan is implemented.

I will not support the introduction of (the new fee) until we have all the technical kinks worked out, he said. We’ve got a long way to go before we make a final decision on this.

After ITAC makes a decision, it will advocate its concerns formally to the administration.

David Swartz, GW’s chief information officer, said he believes the plan is a long shot for the fall.

Along with questions about technology, Siggins said the proposal does not address printing on the first floor of the library and residence halls, only printing in Center for Academic Technologies computer labs. Both Siggins and Swartz said they believe whatever plan is implemented should be implemented throughout the University.

Siggins said the library computers go through 10 reams of paper a day, a cost the library absorbs. If free copies were still in place on the first floor of the library and not in computer labs, the library would be burdened with an even greater cost, he said. Michael Peckman, acting director for Center for Academic Technologies, said his department has a $120,000 budget this year for free copies in its computer labs. The amount budgeted is not expected to cover all costs from printing.

Swartz said many departments have told him they are running over budget mid-year because of excessive amounts of free copies.

Siggins said he believes part of the reason the number of copies is so high is because more information is available in electronic format. But he also said too many students, and some faculty, make more copies than are necessary.

You have to show some restraint, he said. If there was more restraint, we wouldn’t be facing this problem as much.

-Steven Postal contributed to this report.

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