The Undergraduate Student Government of the University of Connecticut rolled out its Husky Print program on Nov. 29, and announced that it will run through finals season, ending on Dec. 19. The program promises to offer 15 pages of free printing to all UConn Storrs students, available at any Wepa printer. Now, my goal here isn’t to knock that program, because while I do think offering the equivalent of $1.20 to all students is lackluster, that’s really not the actual problem here. It should not have to fall on USG to slightly better a necessary service for students who already pay thousands of dollars to the university. That service, the ability to print documents and other paper paraphernalia, should be free to all UConn students, and not just for finals, but throughout the school year.
Students pay tuition in order to be a part of UConn’s classes and use many other resources associated with the school, but for some reason printers are not included in this. Access to computers is granted to those who pay tuition, so it’s clearly not a technology issue. Any class that requires hard copies of anything requires the use of a printer, and just like UConn lends out graphic calculators for use in class, printing should be offered as a resource as well.
If UConn were to offer free printing to students, it certainly would not be the first college to do so. In a statement on University of Chicago’s website: “College students will be allotted up to 100 pages of free printing per quarter.” That’s 400 pages of free printing per year. UConn, assuming the same Husky Print program will be put into effect for the spring semester as well, is set to offer students 30 pages in total.
Clark University takes free printing allocation further than UChicago does. In a statement from the Clark website, the following is said about printing: “Thirty-five dollars is the equivalent to 500 B&W double-sided pages; $14 is equivalent to 200 B&W double-sided pages (to provide up to 1200 pages annually). When the allocation is used up, students can still print at a cost of $.10 per page single-sided or $0.07 per page double-sided page (example: $0.14 for a double-sided page printed on a single sheet of paper).”
“THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS IS THE EQUIVALENT TO 500 B&W DOUBLE-SIDED PAGES; $14 IS EQUIVALENT TO 200 B&W DOUBLE-SIDED PAGES (TO PROVIDE UP TO 1200 PAGES ANNUALLY.) WHEN THE ALLOCATION IS USED UP, STUDENTS CAN STILL PRINT AT A COST OF $.10 PER PAGE SINGLE-SIDED OR $0.07 PER PAGE DOUBLE-SIDED (EXAMPLE: $0.14 FOR A DOUBLE-SIDED PAGE PRINTED ON A SINGLE SHEET OF PAPER.)”Clark University website
In addition to the fact that Clark offers three times as many pages as UChicago does, the passage above brings up an interesting point; not all printed pages are created equal.
Returning to the USG Husky Print rollout, I want to mention that it was advertised with the wording “All UConn students will get to print up to 15 pages free on Wepa printers until the end of the semester.” While this is technically true, it is incredibly misleading as well. Sure, students would be able to print 15 pages free … if all they intended to print were 15 black and white, single-sided pages. Color pages are significantly more expensive, and that should have certainly been mentioned, but the amount of sides a page has is a matter UConn needs to deal with immediately. Currently, the Wepa system counts a double-sided page as two separate pages, and charges the patron accordingly. This is nothing short of a rip-off, as a double-sided piece of paper is NOT the same as two pieces of paper. Sure, more ink may be used, even though this isn’t the case on every occasion, but one piece of paper being used is half the amount of that resource every time. So, not only does Clark beat UConn’s free printing offering by fortyfold, it also understands that it shouldn’t be allowed to charge the full amount for two pages when students ask for a double-sided page.
Now to tackle the last elephant in the room: Clark and UChicago are private schools, and the tuition students pay is generally higher than UConn’s. Well, to that argument, I present the University of South Florida: A public school that offers three dollars of free printing per day. This is the perfect solution that UConn should go for. Students only use the money up if they actually use the service, and if they need to go over this amount in any one day, they have to pay.
Wrapping it all up, UConn needs to do two things as soon as possible. The first is to fix the pricing of the printing items, namely the double-sided page. The second is to offer a daily allocation of free printing to every student who pays tuition. As for where this money should come from, the state of Connecticut’s flagship university should be able to find the funds to support free printing. Again, it’s a necessary resource, so there’s an obligation to provide.