Everybody prints and that’s how the university plans to keep it


A pile of papers sit on a printer at the Douglas computer lab in 2011.

By Kyla Gardner

DeKALB | NIU is the only university in Illinois or the Mid-America Conference that offers unlimited free printing, a benefit that students will enjoy for some time to come.

The Computing Facilities Advisory Committee was considering implementing a fee for printing, as reported to the Student Association on Nov. 7, 2010 by George Bychowski, SA director of technology.

Free printing will definitely not be going away, said Wally Czerniak, associate vice president of Information Technology Services in a phone interview.

Waste is the biggest concern of ITS as it faces a shrinking budget due to inflation, rising printing costs, salary increases, and budget cuts.

In 1995, ITS was allocated a fund to pay for replacement equipment and new software, he said, but rising operating and printing costs in recent years have left little money to invest in either.

Fifteen years ago, Czerniak said, the budget for toner and ink was under $50,000. The budget for that in the next fiscal year is $300,000.

ITS was asked by the administration two years ago to reduce the amount of printing done on campus, Czerniak said.

“We have yet to implement that in a reasonable, cost-effective way,” he said.

There is a 32-page print limit for one document, but Czerniak said he prefers not to implement any more electronic controls.

“We will be looking for ways to help the entire campus print less and use more online services,” he said.

ITS is looking to reduce waste by offering more online storage space for faculty and students and encouraging more assignment exchanges through Blackboard.

Czerniak said a marketing campaign asking students to print less will also be implemented in the future.

“Saving the planet and reducing costs cannot be a bad thing,” he said.

There are 59 printers in 32 general access and classroom labs across campus managed by ITS, which all require a one-card to release print jobs.

These labs printed 21 million pages from October 2009 through September 2010, Czerniak said. He said wasted pages are not tracked at NIU, but other colleges and print management software vendors say waste can be as low as 20 percent or as high as 50 percent of pages printed.

Whitney Cartwright, fifth-year senior general mathematics major, said she does not see much waste in the computer labs because students use the recycling bins and all the printers automatically print double-sided pages.

John Keith, junior special education major, said he does not see a point to the cover pages that print out with each document listing the student’s Z ID.

“I’ve noticed how many pieces of paper are wasted on that little inch [of ink],” Keith said.

Kelsey Renner, junior special education major, said she agrees.

“[It’s a waste] especially because it prints for each document,” she said.

Czerniak said the purpose of the cover pages is to allow students to find their documents if the job is sent to a random printer and to provide privacy if the documents are not picked up right away.