GW may mandate dorm printing fee

Technology officials are investigating whether to institute a printing fee in residence halls and increase GW’s 7-cent fee in laboratories around campus. Residence halls are currently the only place where students can print free of charge.

A dormitory printing fee would probably equal the price for printing in other labs, said Alexa Kim, director of technology communications for Student and Academic Support Services. She said residence halls’ open lab policy will continue indefinitely until the University completes an assessment it began in September 2002. Kim said officials are not operating under a deadline.

If applied, GWPrints, which is in charge of the printing fee, “would probably be in all of the (residence hall) labs,” Kim said. “It would be possible to implement quickly.”

GW established a 7-cent-per-page fee last year to reduce the amount of paper and toner students wasted when printing. Money from the fee goes to maintaining laboratory equipment and purchasing new printers.

Kim said there has been an increase in printing in the residence hall computer labs since the fee was implemented in other labs, but it has not been a significant spike. Officials noted that students only have access to labs in their own residence halls, where many students have their own printers.

“Because of space issues, we have anywhere from three to 20 computers in the residence hall labs. We don’t have a large volume like the (Center for Academic Technologies) labs,” Kim said.

The significant amount of wasted paper, cartridges and toner were important factors in implementing the fee in CATS labs and the Gelman Library. However, Kim said, the University has virtually no way to track printing materials without swipe stations installed in the printers.

“We don’t know what’s used (appropriately), what’s wasted and what’s stolen,” she said.

Because of frequent theft of paper and ink cartridges and abuse of the computers in residence hall labs, it is unlikely that the residence halls would receive new printers if a fee were implemented, officials said. Swipe stations and computers to manage them would be added to the labs.

Similar to CATS and library labs, the revenue generated would go to “cost recovery” for printer paper, toner and the capital costs of the project, Kim said.

CATS labs and the Gelman Library have seen a significant decrease in printing since GW started charging for printing. Last year, users printed 30,000 pages during the week of September, before the fee was implemented, according to a Janury Hatchet arcticle The next week, printers used about 16,000 pages.

William Mayer, assistant University librarian for information technology, said he is proud GW maintained the 7-cent fee for the first full year of the program but that prices could potentially increase.

Other technology officials noted that there would be ample notice if a fee were to be instituted.

“My personal goal would be to educate the GW community way in advance,” said Daniel Price, manager for academic technology services.

If fees were raised, all print partners would meet to agree on a uniform fee. An increase of 1 cent per page would boost funds five to seven percent at the Gelman Library, which saw $32,000 in the 2002-03 academic year from the printing fee.

Money earned from the fees enabled the library to spend $60,000 on six high-speed printing stations.

“Printing has been quite a huge success, and, in the end, the money goes back to the students,” Mayer said.

Printing for the third week of classes this year was about the same as last year. During that period, 14,041 pages were printed in the Gelman Library. Mayer called the figure “fairly comparable” to the 12,231 pages printed during the same week in 2002 – two weeks after the fee was instituted.

GWPrints retains a three-year license with its software vendor. Officials said the contract will likely be renegotiated sometime before the 2005-06 academic year.

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