Carolinian – Opinions
Issue: 2/17/03

Stranger Than Fiction: Just Suck It Up
By Kevin Harvey

The estimated aver age cost for an undergraduate student to attend UNCG this semester is just under $5000. Just over a hundred dollars of that is our “Technology Fee,” which goes to pay for the upkeep of the network server (whatever that is), new hardware, and, most visibly, the paper and ink for the printers in labs around campus.

Apparently, we used $50,000 more ink and paper last semester than the university is willing to pay for. Therefore, next semester, the university is planning to implement a new system by which we pay per page for what we print out. I think this is ridiculous.

How much could paper really cost? Bryan Zellman, in his letter to the editor last week, points out that if you divide the cost by the number of students at UNCG, the price is negligible. His solution is to charge everyone $5 more on his or her technology fee. Sounds like a good idea to me.

What about those kids who really are taking advantage of the free paper? What about the guys in that band that go to the Superlab to print out a thousand flyers to promote their upcoming concert? What about the sorority president who, instead of going to Kinko’s, makes 500 copies of a fund raiser notification? I propose a quota.

Every time I print something out, there’s a cover sheet with my UNIX I.D. on it (kcharvey). If Big Brother knows my name when I send something to the printer (and how many times I’ve logged in with the same password), surely he knows how much paper I’ve used. I’ll bet I could find out right now how much paper I’ve printed off on network computers this semester. If it’s really a problem, why not charge us for every page after 200?

There might be a more environmentally sound way to fix this. Of the 100-or-so pages I printed out last semester, at least 70 of them were from the ereserves website, where one of my instructors posted about 15 pages per class for us to read. Perhaps the university should discourage instructors from requiring students to print out materials for class.

Or maybe the university should just suck it up and pay for it.

I know this is really a small amount of money we’re talking about, but if I’ve learned anything in Economics this semester, it’s that benefits aren’t always necessarily monetary. What kind of message does it send when a university makes its own students pay for the paper they use? It’s just stingy, I think, and I don’t think that’s the message UNCG should be sending to its student. Gutenberg would be ashamed.