Students are working on a proposal to increase the cost of ePrint from 2 cents per page to 4 cents in partnership with Sustainable Duke.
The increase is expected to take effect in Fall 2014. The proposal was presented to the Duke Student Government Executive Board last week, from which it received tentative support, and will be made public at a DSG meeting open to the general student body on Wednesday night. Currently, students are collaborating with the Office of Information Technology and the University Libraries to work out the details. Junior Leah Catotti, one of the students working on the proposal, emphasized that the intention is to discourage excessive printing, not to punish students.
“The goal is behavioral change, and it’s not meant to be a financial burden or anything to everyone,” Catotti said. “It’s supposed to be something that gets people to start a long-term discussion about sustainability and how our behaviors are part of that.”
Currently, students are allotted $32 per semester for printing. When the allotment runs out, students can refill it in $10 increments. As part of the proposal, the soft cap for printing will remain $32, but a new hard cap will be set at $40—meaning that students will be able to add only an additional $8 to ePrint money.
The $40 hard cap will be sufficient for printing approximately 1,000 sheets, Catotti said. As of now, 80 percent of students print fewer than 1,000 pages per semester, so the majority of students will be unaffected by the change. The 20 percent of students who exceed 1,000 pages incur a median cost of $12.
The group hopes that students who exceed the 1,000 pages will reconsider printing textbooks and emails, said sophomore David Clancy, a member of the ePrint proposal team.
“At least when they’re printing it, they have some sort of sense of ‘Okay, this is actually doing something’ and not always be in a place that printing is free,” Clancy said. “There’ll be some sort of consciousness that it’s actually using things.”
DSG has raised concerns about the impact of the proposal on students with financial and medical needs, Clancy said. The ePrint proposal team is currently working on exemptions for students who may have trouble reading certain screens or resort to printing textbooks due to financial constraints. Although a process for granting exemptions has not been set up, possibilities include an application for students with medical needs, and automatic exemptions for students under financial constraints.
Duke Libraries and the OIT currently share the burden of printing costs. Robert Byrd, associate university librarian for collections and user services, noted that the library’s printing costs have nearly doubled over the past few years and that the cost of providing toners and paper for the ePrint stations exceeded $100,000 in the library’s 2014 budget.
“If the printing is something that is used responsibly, then that is appropriate,” Byrd said. “But if not, then it is taking up money in the budget for other services that are desirable.”
The 4 cents, although still not entirely representative, is a closer estimate of the cost of printing per page borne by the OIT and Duke Libraries, Clancy said.
“From the beginning, staff and administration from the Library were also involved, because a good bit of the overprinting occurs in those venues,” wrote Charlotte Clark, faculty director of Sustainability at Duke and advisor for the proposal, in an email Tuesday. “Library staff realized that the ‘price’ paid by students did not reflect the cost to the University for paper and supplies.
Clark expressed hope that the changes would increase awareness of sustainability issues on campus.
“I think the new policy makes a statement to all students that printing is a finite free resource on campus, and, with a good concurrent and ongoing education campaign, students will connect this limit to environmental sustainability,” Clark said. “That, in itself, is a worthy outcome.”