Staff Editorial: Printing out of pocket

Students will have one more reason to complain about GW nickel-and-diming this fall, as the library and other computer labs on campus begin charging 7 cents a page to print. While some were upset last semester when the Center for Academic Technologies implemented a cap on student printing, the jump from virtually free printing to a per-page charge is drastic and unfair.

Library administrators expect to receive a lot of flack for the new charge, but frustration should be aimed higher – at University budget coordinators who refuse allocate enough money for technology that serves more and more students every year. Increased printing without responsive budget increases by the University has backed the library and CATS labs into a corner. They understandably cannot afford to pay for the enormous amount of paper, printer toner and printer maintenance needed to satisfy a growing body of internet-savvy and print-happy students under current budget confines. After numerous requests for budget increases with no luck, the library is left with no other choice but to go the way of other local universities like American and George Mason and institute a fee.

Understanding that waste in University computer labs is a serious issue, the jump from nearly unlimited free printing to a charge for every page is still too extreme. A more progressive approach is needed. Last semester technology officials granted every student 1,250 printed pages before cutting them off. Now students will be charged beginning with page one? It does not add up. Technology officials need to spend a little more time fixing a free-printing cap, where students are charged once they pass a reasonable amount of pages printed, before determining a blanket charge is necessary.

The new fee is going to force all students to continuously carry debit dollars on their GWorld cards, a service thought of as completely optional before, because it is the only way students will be able to pay for printing, just like copies in the library are paid for now. While this might seem like a small inconvenience, it is difficult for many to explain to parents the difference between meal points and debit dollars and ask for more money, no matter how small the amount.

If this fee is going to be implemented as outlined, students should expect something more out of the library as Bill Mayer, assistant librarian for information technology, said the fee will provide for better services for students. Services should be of better quality and faster. Printers should always be working and full of paper and they should process print orders promptly so students do not accidentally double-charge themselves.

Professors should also take into account this new charge. Students should not be required to print out long readings and professors should at least hand out important papers, like syllabi, in class.

The administration has gone as far as combining fees in tuition bills in an attempt to eliminate the appearance of chasing after every extra dollar. But their efforts will all go to waste when in September the new pay-for-print policy goes online, and students are once again convinced the University is robbing them.

Some students will no doubt complain that the University is trying to drain them and that they can not afford or refuse to pay 7 cents a page. We recommend those students make the trip to Mount Vernon, where free printing is safe for now.

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