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Printing Issues Unwound by a Concerned Student

In addition to this year’s tuition and fee hikes, Mills students now have to pay for printing. Starting this year students will receive 500 pages of printing for free each semester with a charge of $25 for an additional 500 pages. Mills is integrating the new printing system this semester and will refill students’ printing queues for free, upon students request in person, until Spring 2014 when the new printing fees will be implemented. Mills migrated to a pay-for-print system because the college wanted to make students aware of the amount of printing they were doing and raise awareness of waste on campus. Even though Mills will not start charging students for printing until January 2014, it already has me being vigilant of my print numbers.

I understand the importance of what the college is trying to do. But for most of my classes I have around 20 articles that range from 10-20 pages each (about 400 pages per class) that are available online for student access — most of which I print because I annotate, highlight, and write notes on them to be prepared for class. True, we are not required to print out course materials, but that is, in my experience, what most students do: print them ALL out. How do I print less when I still have the same amount of online course readings? I’m with you Mills, we print too much…but how can I print less and still be prepared for class?

Since such a huge part of my printing is course material, why don’t professors offer bound readers instead of leaving it to students to print all the readings separately? I mean we are paying for it now anyways, right? Mills could even solicit a small printing shop to make bound readers for students at a potentially discounted rate, while also supporting a local business.

If only Mills had some solution to printing that would allow me to accomplish annotation and class prep without the unwanted paper waste. True, we do have Blackboard, but what about an application that allows students to access, highlight, and take notes on digital documents — a thesis project for a master’s student perhaps? Maybe that is just what I’m hoping happens.

I’m wondering if Mills has other plans to this end? Is Mills moving towards a paperless age? This change could foreshadow laptop-required classes where all students have access to all course material and student work in class, real time — work-shopping and sharing documents virtually in class, a paper-free campus, totally green! I kind of like it.

It seems most professors are on board with the change. I can already see adjustments to the majority of my syllabi: assignments due online, and workshops taking place via Blackboard or class alias instead of printing out multiple copies. However, the looming amount of online course material that need to be printed is still an unaddressed complication for me this semester. Come on Mills… help us print less!

Overall, I think this printing change is a good thing. Especially if Mills can help students achieve the goal of using less paper, or even none. We should be aware of how much paper we use. And 5 cents a page is pretty cheap, even if we do have to pay.