Issue 48, Spring 2011
by Rob Galbraith
Students printed 1,783,079 sheets of paper during fall quarter 2010. The 13,321 individual students who accomplished this printed an average of 134 sheets each. The print total above multiples to over 5,000,000 sheets in the course of one year. Even taking advantage of the best prices and bulk purchases, the University will spend more than $100,000 this year on paper and toner for student printing alone. Other costs include maintenance on the printers and the cost of power.
Although many students believe that their printing is paid for by the Student Technology Fee (STF), actually, all student printing paper and toner costs are paid from ATUS, Library and other departmental budgets. At over $100,000 per year, the current budget situation makes those costs unsustainable and the potential of lowering or eliminating the student quota allocations has been brought up in several forums.
Western students pay for printing in excess of their quarterly print quota in General University Computer Labs, the Library and other computer labs. Students are currently allocated a quota of $17.50 (350 black and white prints) per quarter. Most of our peer institutions provide either much smaller or no free printing quotas. The UW, for example, has no free quota and charges $0.12 for single-sided and $0.23 for double-sided prints. Their charge for color prints is $0.75. WSU also has no quota and charges $0.10 per side for black and white printing, but does not offer color printing. CWU pays for student printing with an allotment from their student technology fee. These fees are generally higher compared to Western's current fees of $0.05 for single or double-sided prints and $0.25 for color. Western offers double-sided printing for the price of one as an incentive to students to save paper.
With an average of 134 prints, the majority of students print well below the current 350 page quota, but a few consume their entire quota and find that they need to print still more. There is a system in place for any student to print beyond their quota by paying for the extra pages. They can do this by using of one of three "Print Deposit Stations" located on the first and second floor of HH or on the second level of AW. These stations accept bills and coins and then instantly credit the student's print balance. Deposits are maintained for as long as the student is enrolled. As part of a pilot project students can also pay for prints online using a VISA or MasterCard at https://wwu.pcounterwebpay.com/. During the pilot period, no credit card transaction fees are collected, but soon there will be a $1.00 fee to cover the bank and service provider charges for each credit card transaction.
Some students have reported that faculty provide electronic files, often on Blackboard, and have requested that students print out these documents. With impending quota reductions this could incur a direct cost to students for printing these articles and other documents. An option to consider is having the articles pre-printed and available as course packs in the bookstore (call the Copyright/Coursepack office at 650-7435, or http://west.wwu.edu/atus/copyright/index.shtml ). This option also provides copyright clearance should you need it. An additional advantage to some students is that the cost might be covered under an allowance for textbooks. Requiring the students to print them directly could come straight out of their pocketbooks.
The prospect of students paying their own printing costs would allow ATUS to offer additional printing services. Color printing could be made available to students on both north and south campus and the technology to allow students to print from their own laptop computers and other mobile devices could also be obtained and deployed. Whatever future student printing services might look like, it is clear that the current funding model is not sustainable and all of the alternatives need to be examined.
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