COMS gets paper cut

By Deanna Cabinian

Budget concerns have forced the communication department to cut back its use of paper. The restriction is forcing professors to use fewer printouts for their classes.

“Money is spent on travel, contracts, equipment … it gets down to things like paper,” said Arthur Doederlein, director of undergraduate studies and an assistant communication professor.

Doederlein said the department is trying to find paperless ways of running classes.

The department is posting information about majors online, putting reading assignments on reserve at the library and using the Blackboard Web site. Professors say the push toward more technology in the classroom should not be foreign to students.

“Since we live in a world that is increasingly technological, electronic information retrieval is not new to my students,” said communication professor Laura Vazquez, who said she has never given out a paper syllabus or handouts in her three years at NIU.

Doederlein said the department no longer can send out letters to prospective students. They can only rely on e-mail.

Lois Self, the communication department chair, said the decision to cut back on paper use was discussed at a faculty meeting before the semester started.

Self said the department will provide course syllabi and examinations, but professors are entitled to a limited number of copies beyond that.

There always have been limits on paper use, but resources are scarcer now, Self said.

Not having access to increased amounts of paper does not seem to bother students.

“I think it’s good to cut down on paper in all areas of the school as far as the environment is concerned,” said Kyle Jacobson, a junior communications major.

And others would just as soon use their own paper.

“It doesn’t really matter to me,” said junior communications major Rachel Doornbosch. “I prefer to take my own notes.”

Self does not know how money will be saved by limiting paper use. She did say that if the department can reduce expenses there it will help a little bit and make people aware of the problem.

The English department is in a similar situation. Robert Self, the department chair, said that the department is looking at the hard budget to determine what cuts have to be made.

He said that there are a number of things they will have to reduce, adding that the department is restricting travel for research, reducing equipment costs and cutting back on paper as well.

“The cuts are taking place in the anticipation that the state of Illinois is going to take money back from us, largely as a function of the state’s economic deficit,” he said.

Other departments have not yet been asked to cut back on paper use.

Nancy Russo, the OMIS department chair, said that they haven’t really had to cut back on paper because they’ve moved things to the Web. Money allowed for travel has been cut almost completely, though, and they’ve seen cuts in the number of graduate assistants and student workers. Russo also said that they cannot purchase any new equipment.

“The governor keeps taking money from us,” she said. Russo said that this fiscal year will be bad, but they are not sure about the future.

Similarly, Lois Self said that the communications department is trying to get through the spring semester.

Self said other measures besides restricting paper use will be necessary in light of the budget crisis, but ensures the department is doing everything it can to keep classes for students.