EDITORIAL: Support free printing on Grounds

The University should move toward making printing free for all students

op-printers-sroehse

More needs to be done to ensure that everyone can access free printing services at all points during the year.

Sophie Roehse | Cavalier Daily

Student Council’s free printing initiative started earlier this month on April 15. The printers are located in the Programs and Councils Office in Newcomb Hall and are available from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. until May 10. This initiative is promising because it not only makes printing services more accessible during finals season, but it also demonstrates progress toward one of the stated goals of Ellie Brasacchio, Student Council president and third-year College student. However, more needs to be done to ensure that everyone can access printing services at all points during the year. Therefore, we urge the University to make printing services permanently free for all students. 

Printing in black and white, at four libraries on Grounds, currently costs $.08 per copy and $.60 per copy for color. And while this may seem like a relatively small amount, these costs can add up during a student’s four years at the University. With the many expenses students already have to grapple with, printing is an unnecessary additional cost that they have to factor into their budgets. 

In order to print at many locations on Grounds, students have to pay using their Cavalier Advantage accounts on their ID cards. And while first-years use these cards to pay for laundry in dorms, it is not uncommon for upperclassmen to never use this feature again — especially since it costs $2 to upload money onto them and there is a $27 minimum, if you are unable to pay at a kiosk. Oftentimes, students neglect to check their balance, which can become a huge issue when students have to print an assignment quickly and do not have enough funds on their cards. This means if they don’t have a friend in the vicinity who can lend them a helping hand, then they may face serious repercussions. Something as tiny as lacking a few cents to print the last page of an essay could put a student’s grade in jeopardy. 

While instituting free printing would be hugely beneficial for students, it is also realistic. Many other colleges, such as the University of South Florida and Boston College, have instituted free printing in some form. The University should follow their lead and create a similar program to make printing far more accessible to the student body. 

Currently, free printing is available at certain times in a few places around Grounds, such as the Office of African American Affairs and the Multicultural Student Center. And while these centers should be lauded for their efforts to make printing more accessible to disadvantaged communities, printing should be free in all libraries at the University. 

There are several ways the University could institute free printing around Grounds. However, we believe emulating the University of South Florida and allowing students a certain amount of free printing per day would be the best path forward. Creating a per semester allowance program like several other colleges could be beneficial, but by pursuing that policy the University runs the risk of students running out of funds early in the semester. Therefore, a certain amount of daily free printing should be allotted to each student. This could be paid for by raising the student activity fee slightly or by trimming administrative costs, which have grown exponentially at colleges around the country in recent years. Unlimited free printing would be unrealistic, as that would incentivize students to print unnecessarily, but ensuring a certain amount of printing is free is only fair considering the cost of tuition. 

Implementing free printing would be incredibly beneficial for all students in improving their educational experience. While Student Council should be praised for its efforts thus far to ensure students have access to some degree of free printing, it is far too limited in scope. For the future, we urge the Council to continue to advocate for free printing year-round. Cost already represents a barrier for many students around Grounds — it is time to take printing out of that equation. 

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors and their Senior Associate. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

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