Opinion » Editorial | Sept. 20
One of the first things students do upon arriving on campus is purchase their course books. Fortunately, Labyrinth Books has simplified this process by streamlining how University students order their course readings as well as by offering an annual University discount. Yet, some courses require students to venture to the U-Store to purchase bound photocopies of readings through Pequod, which can often be expensive and environmentally unsustainable. The Board believes that University professors and administrators should strive to minimize the use of Pequods by relying on more sustainable and affordable alternatives.
Many textbooks are expensive, but Labyrinth is not the sole provider of most of the reading materials University students require. If students find that they cannot afford a book from Labyrinth, there are a variety of other options available. This is simply not the case for the materials included in Pequods. If a student cannot afford a course’s Pequod, which can cost as much as $134, there are no available alternatives. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that Pequods for courses often change from one semester to the next, depriving students of the opportunity to purchase used Pequods.
The Board is sensitive to the printing costs and copyright restrictions Pequod encounters in assembling its packets. The Electronic Course Reserve Service, however, offers a solution to these copyright restrictions, as it allows the University to work with publishers to expand the library’s collection of e-reserve materials. While the University would incur a cost in expanding its e-reserve materials, increasing the accessibility of reading materials to students is surely a goal deserving of substantial University support.
Not only are Pequods expensive to purchase, but they also are contrary to the University’s long-standing goal to implement environmentally sustainable practices on campus. Printing hundreds of photocopies each semester is wasteful. Uploading these photocopies as a PDF through e-reserves would not only reduce costs for students, but it would also further the University’s commitment to sustainability. The Board does recognize that students often print e-reserve readings, but we still believe the move would reduce dependence on paper, especially in light of the print quota that allows the University to monitor and regulate student printing patterns.
In addition to the mere cost, Pequod’s return policy and payment options are also financially burdensome. At no point are students allowed full refunds — only 75 percent and 50 percent returns are available after the first 10 and 20 days of classes, respectively. After the first 20 days of classes, students are unable to make any returns. This burdens students who are unsure of which courses they will ultimately decide to take. Labyrinth, by contrast, allows students to receive a full refund within a specified time period. Further, students are required to purchase Pequods with cash, credit or debit, foregoing the student charge. The student charge allows students to either delay payment or use University credit or loans. Student charge thereby allows students to more easily access course materials. If Pequods are to remain a component of University courses, the University should work with Pequod to make the student charge option available.
Eliminating Pequods is likely not the most practical solution. However, if courses rely more on services like e-reserves, the volume of materials submitted to Pequod is reduced, thereby decreasing the size and cost of Pequods. And if the University establishes a closer relationship with Pequod, our needs as students can be met in a way that does not create unnecessary financial burdens in accessing required course materials.