It’s True: No more $15 for Printing –> Free Printing!

Last semester, I divulged the details behind the QC administration’s decision to no longer give $15 in printing money to students who complete teacher evaluations. I was thrilled to see that blog go quasi-viral, having been shared on Facebook by many outraged students. Knowing that each time I printed something I was depleting my precious printing money, I was extremely parsimonious when it came to printing pages. As a result, I struggled to read multiple 60- page reading assignments, all of which were single spaced, from my computer screen. There was barely $6 left on my card, and I refused to use it all in one class.

About a month ago, out of the blue, a friend of mine insisted I go to the next Technology Fee committee meeting because part of the agenda was to discuss and vote on the new budget. One of the allocations to be considered was money for free printing in the library. To say I was skeptical and cynical would be an understatement. I, along with fellow student members of the Technology Fee Committee, had fought tooth and nail to reinstate the policy of rewarding students with printing money for filling out teacher evaluations. Now, they would suddenly be willing to simply allow students to print free of charge?

After some investigating, I discovered that SFC was behind this proposal. Everything clicked. This was a politically motivated move, carried out right before elections so that it would be fresh in students’ minds when they considered for whom they would vote.

At the Tech Fee committee meeting, there were two SFC members present. When the proposal came up for discussion, it received immediate backing from students, and vehement opposition from administrators. The latter alleged that funding for free printing did not fall under the Tech Fee category. Supporting our fellow SFC peers,  Tech Fee committee student members came to the defense of our SFC peers’ proposal, and cogently argued, with prior knowledge of how the committee’s funds are indeed allowed to be allocated, that the funding of free printing did directly enhance student learning through the use of technology. I even argued once I saw that this was a losing battle that at the very least the money currently on our cards should roll over to the next semester; since we were not able to get more, we should at least be able to keep what we have. Once we went through the proposed budget, it appeared that Queens College would be running a $2M deficit in 2015. We realized that certain costs clearly could not be avoided, and that the provost perceived our arguments to be tenuous, at best. I left the meeting unsurprised, and said to the dejected SFC members, “I should have warned you…”

I was shocked to receive a follow-up email barely a week later, stating that there had been some major numerical errors in the calculations, including accidentally doubling salaries. In fact, there was enough money for printing, and the Provost had decided that the Technology Fee Committee could cover it. With a long email feed in which people succinctly responded “I approve” (thus hiding my elation), free printing in the QC library had officially been implemented!

I was very excited to see that we now have free printing, but I made sure to discuss with others that this was not a free for all. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. There is a finite amount of every type of good in the world. When students were forced to pay, they were more conservative in their printing habits; they only printed when they needed to, such as for essays and documents. Now, since it is free, there is nothing stopping them from printing as much as they like. In the short run this might seem great. In this long run, though, this bears serious potential consequences. Having over 20,000 students print as much as they want is not sustainable. Queens College cannot afford to supply that quantity of toner, paper, and ink. If students continue to print so much, Queens College might very well revoke the free printing. We have seen them do it before, and they could do it again. Except the next time, Queens College might not give any money to students to fill out student evaluations. So while you should definitely be grateful for the option of free printing on campus, do not exploit it and ruin it for the rest of us!

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Published in: on April 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm Comments (0)

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