Senate committee investigates printing credit discrepancies

HN Hoffmann | Senior Editor

Student Union launched an investigation into how to address the discrepancy between on-campus and off-campus student printing credits.

The investigation is a response to an influx of student concerns about this issue, which were submitted in SU’s first annual Improve WashU Campaign survey, conducted in spring 2018.

Although students were concerned about both school-based discrepancies and housing-based printing discrepancies, the committee decided to first work toward addressing residential printing credit discrepancies.

Junior Allyson Hollie, Diversity & Inclusion Committee chair, directed her committee in this focal shift. At first, the committee aimed to investigate a more broad range of socioeconomic struggles that current Washington University standards create for off-campus students.

“At the beginning of my term last fall, we toyed with the idea of doing a whole sequence of reports about all the things that off-campus students have to deal with—meal plans, parking, and printer credit—but since parking has been sort-of acknowledged by administration and printer credit for students in non-[University]-owned housing is only $5, we decided to acknowledge that,” Hollie said.

Students who live in University residential housing receive a $40 annual printing credit, usable on any University printer. Depending on what school a student is in, they might receive more printing credits. For students who live in off-campus housing, that printing credit drops to $5.

“Wash. U. is one of the only schools that discriminates between off-campus non-residential students and residential students. [Not many] other schools do that; it’s typically the same amount for everybody,” Hollie said. “There are two usual types of printer policies: what we do, where they give you a dollar amount and you go with that, or where the school will give you a max number of pages you can print.”

Working with committee members Kristina Lee and Eric Miller, Hollie hopes to complete a report detailing the printing policies that other institutions use in hopes that the University will consider changing their own residential printing standards.

“We’re just going to try to recommend to whoever manages these printing policies that everyone should be on the same level. You shouldn’t discriminate between students who live off campus and students who live on campus,” Hollie said. “Just because they live off campus doesn’t mean they have a printer. Printing gets expensive.”

When reached for comment, Student Technology Services (STS) referred to its Printing Quota and Cost webpage.

“Printing quotas vary for each individual student based on where they live or which school they attend,” the page reads. “All quotas are annual, and are applied on July 1st of each year.”

Further clarification from STS staff explained that they have no jurisdiction over this credit, and were unable to offer further explanation on where this credit is pulled from.

Regardless of where the committee decides to take their report, student concerns surrounding residentially-allocated printing credit continue to grow. For junior Sophie Leib-Neri, moving into non-University-sponsored off-campus housing meant paying for all of her printing out of her own pocket.

“I print almost everything. I also don’t have a printer in my building, either, so I have to go all the way to campus,” Leib-Neri said. “I’ve definitely already used my $5 of printing credit. I have no idea exactly how much I’ve spent on printing, but it’s a lot. I’m a humanities person, so a lot of my work is reading, and I find it really difficult to read on computers.”

While some University off-campus housing does feature PaperCut-utilizing printers within the building, those printers do not always offer every printing option. Junior Emma Sass, who lives in Greenway, has to turn in hard copies of essays and her printing costs are exacerbated by the fact that she can only print in color.

“That’s not even an avoidable printing cost. I’ve definitely exceeded my $5. I think it’s stupid that once you move off campus, you only get $5,” Sass said.

Junior Alyssa Ashford lived off campus her sophomore year for financial reasons, and rapidly used up her allotted printing credits, sparking her to lend her support to the committee’s investigation.

“When I lived off campus, most of my classes were like WGGS [Women, Gender, & Sexuality studies], biology, mostly various humanities where I had to print. I went through the $5 credit in my first week of school because I had to print off my readings,” Ashford said. “I was living off campus with my parents because I couldn’t afford to be here, so what makes you think that $5 [for printing] would be sufficient?”

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