Since 2009, students had $50 in printing credits for assignments. This year, Information Technology Services (ITS) has allocated $10. Meanwhile, the cost to print one page in black and white has risen from seven to eight cents.
New cloud-based kiosk printers located throughout the campus offer the explanation for this 80% decrease in student printing funds.
The new printing stations, owned and maintained by Wēpa, are supposed to create a more convenient printing experience. The cloud-based system enables students to print papers without having to access the computer lab. Instead, all that is required is a Student ID card or one’s MyRedlands login information. With this, students can connect to their OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and Moodle accounts to easily choose which files to print.
Before, printing required using a desktop computer in the Jones Computer Center which were exclusively programmed to the printers in the lab. Students also had the option to connect their laptops to the printer located outside the Jones Center to the left of the Bulldog Juice and Java (formerly The Bulldog Café), yet it was only from that specific printer which they could do so. Therefore, the new kiosk printing system does offer greater accessibility in terms of accessing and printing files.
Thirteen printers have now been placed around campus, including three in the computer lab, one in Hunsaker and one in Hall of Letters.
However, this trade-off has resulted in a $40 decrease from previous years in which students had a $50 printing credit with PaperCut print management software.
ITS administrators Iyan Sandri and Shariq Ahmed responded to questions during their presentation for ASUR on Sept. 13th.
The decision was ultimately made by Information and Technology Services to allow for the transition towards using kiosk printers, as well as “to promote digitization and online submission of assignments,” Shariq Ahmed said.
Because the kiosk printers are used by Wēpa, it’s now more expensive for ITS to allocate printing credits to students because the money is being paid directly to the printing management service. Meaning, the eight cents it costs to print one page in black and white is the actual cost to use Wēpa print management services.
With PaperCut, the seven cents it required to print one page was an arbitrary price to curb students from unlimited printing. Therefore, $50 with Wēpa differs from $50 with PaperCut in that a financial transaction is taking place between the University and another company, whereas that wasn’t the case before. Thus, to counteract the higher charge for Wēpa, Information Technology Services decided on the $10 printing credit as an average amount students had spent previously on printing.
It’s important to note that students are able to renew their credits once they run out of their $10. They can do this by either walking into the Jones Computer Center and requesting for more credits or filling out a request form online, and a $3 printing increment is given to anyone who needs it.
Iyan Sandri made sure to acknowledge the benefits towards cloud-based printing not just for students, but for the ITS department. Whereas he was responsible for all printing malfunctions before, the new system “opens up [his] job possibilities more than before.” Because Wēpa now handles the maintenance and management of the printers, Sandri shared he is “better suited to assist students over other issues.”
The lower credit will likely reduce paper use around campus. Professors have already begun accepting electronic submissions for work in instances where they otherwise wouldn’t have last year. Furthermore, Sandri recounted an instance in which there was a student who printed several pages of paper until his credit ran out near the end of the second semester last year because he feared his printing money was going to waste. ITS believes actions such as this will be deterred as students are forced to think more wisely about what is necessary to print.
Shariq Ahmed remarked, however, that their goal “is not to completely eliminate paper. As long as faculty want you to print paper, we’re going to have to support that.”
Only time will tell how the demand to need to print will meet the forty percent decrease in students’ printing credits, and if it’s a change faculty and undergraduates are willing to adapt to.