Printing not worth cost to NIU

By Northern Star Editorial Board

The university must prioritize saving money over giving students a higher printing quota.

Students are allocated $7 per semester — or about 100 pages — in printing, a drop from last year’s $14 per semester, which was equivalent to printing 200 pages. The shift down is part of NIU’s plan to cut printing, which was unlimited before being reduced to $21 — or about 300 sheets — for the fall 2012 semester.

The cuts have saved NIU too much money to go back; but, students have used an online petition to ask for a higher printing quota. Their complaints about being forced to cover costs once they pass their printing quota must be taken seriously.

Raising the printing quota to $14 per semester would add about $290,000 in costs to the university, said Chief Information Officer Brett Coryell. NIU would be better served if that money were spent elsewhere, especially since students used printing on frivolous things, like song lyrics and photos, before unlimited printing was removed, according to a Nov. 27, 2012, Northern Star article.

But, if students are being asked to give up free printing, NIU has to meet them halfway: Too many faculty members ask students to print rubrics and assignments that could be viewed and submitted electronically. Blackboard is an excellent resource for submitting assignments; requiring students to print material should be a professor’s last resort if printing is limited. This will be better for the environment and students’ wallets.

The university plans to cut out free printing entirely in the coming years. That would put NIU in line with other universities — University of Illinois charges most students 10 cents per black and white page, as does Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville. Students must be prepared for this, and faculty must help them cut costs.