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Printing policy peeves

August 26, 2011

Monmouth College has forsaken its mission to educate its students by instituting a policy forcing students to ration the number of pages they are allowed to print in a semester.

We, of The Courier staff, feel  this policy will generally harm the educational interests and pursuits of students and faculty alike. We understand that printing costs are skyrocketing. We also understand that people can be careless with their printing. We see the environmental benefit to this policy. However, in good nature, we cannot support it.

You may wonder how Monmouth College came to the conclusion to limit students to 300 pages per semester. We would expect Monmouth College would directly ask faculty to encourage students to digitally submit papers. Not so, according to faculty we interviewed. The suggestion was never brought to them. We would expect Monmouth College would bring the issue to a faculty meeting. Not so, according to those same faculty. They learned of the new policy days before the beginning of the fall term and weeks after setting their syllabi.

Upon learning of this policy, we expected computers would default to the nearest physical printer, as they were programmed to before last year’s upgrade to Windows 7. A members of our staff was disturbed to discover this was not so after trudging across campus after sending a document to the wrong printer, all to protect a vital two pages of his quota.

Is it any wonder that there is printer waste on this campus? Monmouth College has done virtually nothing to prevent the issue. How is it even logical to implement a rationing system without even trying to address that students are accidentally sending pages all over campus. Why is the Trotter Lab printer even registered as a printer on a Mellinger Learning Center computer?

All these issues aside, we feel that the 300 page limit with the 6 cents per page overdraft fee is insane. In talking to students on campus, we have found that much of our campus community feels the same.  If a student takes an average class load of five classes, that averages 60 pages per class. Over-achieving students with six classes are further  limited to 50 pages per class. We learned that Monmouth College contacted other schools to survey their printing limits. We also surveyed several schools.

Our neighbor school down the road, Knox College, gives students 300 pages per trimester, for a total of  900 pages per year. They also have only three classes per semester, averaging 100 allotted pages per semester. Their overage costs: 5 cents per page.

Millikin University of Decatur, Ill. gives students  1,000 pages per year. That averages 500 per semester or, with five classes per semester, 100 pages per class. If students go over, they can transfer pages from one account to another or pay $5 for another 500 pages, or 1 cent per page.

As you can see, Monmouth College falls well behind these two small, liberal arts institutions. But what does this mean for the student?

It means Monmouth is willing to sacrifice our education for a few dollars in savings. Already professors have withheld from having students print out readings. One actually said that by doing so, his class discussion was half of what it had been for the same topic in years past. Is this truly what College was meant to be? Half-hearted education in the face of a looming limit?

Near the end of the semester, we predict students will be extremely conservative with their pages and if it came down to writing a shorter, less comprehensive paper or paying a little bit more for pages, we feel students will chose the former. Quality of work will decrease. Monmouth will lose its prestige and will lose its opportunity to be the Mesopotamia of the 21st century.

If that were to happen, we wonder what will happen to our degrees. Perhaps, though, a better question would be to ask if we will even receive those degrees. After all, based on this policy, how will the college ever afford to print our diplomas?

Katie Schemerhorn

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