ArtSci printing policy fosters sustainability, community

| Staff Columnist

According to an e-mail circulated on April 28, 2009, by Marcia Mannen, associate director of client support of Arts & Sciences Computing, with this semester comes not only the South 40 House and the Class of 2013, but also a new printing policy.

The new policy can potentially make the campus a bit greener and the University’s endowment a bit larger.

Under the conditions of this new policy, the printing of a one-sided, two-sided or color piece of paper will be accompanied by a charge of four, six or 25 cents, respectively, in an effort to encourage sustainability across campus.

In a time of heightened awareness about the global climate change and environment, such an action reflects prudence and innovation. In its last evaluation, Wash. U. only received a C+ on its College Sustainability Report Card. As a leading university, Washington University holds the responsibility of setting an example for the surrounding areas and further. The printing policy sets a precedent of accountability and greenness, if you will, in a hitherto unutilized way.

With a monetary charge, students will now consider not only the implications of having piles of paper lying around their dorm room, but also a mounting charge on their student account. Is it worth printing this paper for a meager three lines of information about the mating habits of the African baboon? Why not just watch the Discovery Channel or scribble them down in a notebook? With an awareness of this policy, students will print less and rely more on resources that they already have.

This new mandate also encourages the innovation of even more ways of using less paper and sustaining the environment. Maybe because of these charges, professors will accept assignments via e-mail. Maybe syllabi will be distributed through Telesis and not packets of paper. Maybe the University will have to worry less about toner and notice the deepening hue of green spreading from the South 40 to The Village.

In addition to reducing the resources consumed by students and faculty alike, the policy will aid in shrinking Wash. U.’s financial woes. In a speech given in February, Chancellor Mark Wrighton announced that the University’s endowment had shrunk an unprecedented amount of between 10 and 25 percent. Certain cutbacks would have to be made, he warned. Construction was delayed. Budgets were tightened.

This policy helps to offset, if only by a tiny amount, the financial problems that our Univesrity faces. If each student prints two twelve-page papers every semester, Wash. U. will have approximately $12,000 extra by the end of this year. Comparatively speaking, that is a very small amount of money, but is it insignificant? Not in the slightest bit.

Click here to read the counterpoint.

Tell that to a student who is in three Writing Intensive courses this semester, and I have no doubt that a look of frustration or pure vitriol will flash across her face. I mean, we’re spending $50,000 per year to come to this school, so we shouldn’t have to pay extra for assignments, should we?

Honestly, though, it is only a very small fee. I love this university and I want to do everything I can to help it along, because I not only feel like I’m learning, but I also feel a sense of community. That is what this policy asks us all to do. The charge is small, but when we come together with our ideas and our finances, we help shape the condition of this community and the world itself.

Just remember this when you print off your first paper of the semester: Sometimes it takes a little gold to be green.

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