GW touts printing fees

University officials call the semester-old printing fee in most campus computer labs “a success” so far in combating wasted paper and toner. The Center for Academic Technologies saw almost 200,000 fewer pages printed compared to last fall, and Gelman Library has also significantly cut down its pages printed.

Officials said the University currently plans to keep the printing fee in place for at least the next two years, and it will most likely continue a pay-for-print model in the future.

“It’s a big change. There are no huge stacks of wasted paper,” said William Mayer, assistant University librarian for information technology.
During the week of Sept. 3, before the Gelman Library started charging 7 cents per page, users printed about 30,000 sheets of paper in library labs alone. However, only about 16,000 sheets of paper were printed the following week, when students started paying.

Most students said the new fee has deterred them from printing as many pages as they have in past years.

“I go to the Library of Congress and print for free now,” senior Molly Hueller said. “I try not to print in (on-campus) computer labs.”
Hueller said she did all of her printing at Gelman last year because it was free.

Some students, however, said they understand the printing fee because it cuts down on waste.

“If I were (a GW official), I would’ve (instated the fee) a lot sooner,” sophomore Jeffrey Buckler said. “Twenty cents for a document is nothing … I don’t care.”

The money from the fee is “targeted back into student services,” Mayer said. CATS funds generated from printing goes toward buying paper and toner, communication, staffing resources, printer expenses and life cycle replacement for printing equipment.

Mayer said he would not want to charge students for a printing service and then spend money on something besides improving technology. This year the library added six printers to its collection.

There have been four technical problems with the library’s system so far this year, when the GWorld card office temporarily shut down for a few hours at a time. Students must pay for all printing jobs with either their GWorld Debit Dollars or library courtesy cards, on which students can put money to be used in library labs.

Mayer said the system has been reworked so that future GWorld outages will not affect printing.

He noted that library printers had to be replaced after only a year because of the heavy use they received last year. Their normal period of usefulness is three years.

Students who use CATS labs, which are located in the lower level of the Marvin Center, the lower level of the Gelman Library, Rome Hall and several classrooms, printed out 838,425 pages from Aug. 19, 2002, until Dec. 21, 2002. This is an 18.5 percent reduction in pages printed, compared with last fall, and a 27 percent decrease, compared with last spring.

“Our main goal is to provide students with better student service – we’ve got better printers deployed and less waste,” said Daniel Price, manager for Academic Technology Services.

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