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University Responds to Students’ Printing Proposal

Price will drop four cents a page


Student Union members Anant Shukla (CAS’10) (left) and John Bavlsik (CAS’11) spearheaded the proposal considered by University officials in changing the printing policy. Photo by Edward Brown

Leaders of the Student Union responded positively yesterday to news that the University would lower the cost of printing from 12 cents to 8 cents a page, but would leave in place its 100-page quota on free printing. Word of the change, which takes effect in January, came from Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore in a morning meeting with John Bavlsik (CAS’11), chair of the Student Union’s technology committee, and Anant Shukla (CAS’10), a Student Union senator and member of the group’s print quota task force.

Bavlsik describes the move, which came more than a month after the Student Union presented to University officials a three-point proposal listing suggested changes, as “definitely positive,” despite its leaving quotas as is. He says he has seen statistics on students’ usage and believes that routine consumption of paper has been wasteful.

“The University’s logic is that the 100 pages is not a quota so much as a subsidy,” says Bavlsik. “BU is not intending to cover our academic need by paying for all printing.”

Shukla says he’s pleased that the administration considered the views of students about the existing policy. “Every single party that is affected by this had a voice at the table,” he says. “That’s the most beneficial thing that came out of this entire issue.”

Elmore says the students’ proposal, which recommended raising the undergraduate quota to 250 pages, keeping the cost per page above quota at 12 cents, and appointing students to a committee to provide input on future changes, “raised some valid and legitimate concerns.” He says the University’s lowering of page cost was an effort to “meet student demands halfway.”

“I hope that in the long run it really gets people thinking about their printing,” he says.

The existing printing policy, launched at the beginning of this semester, is part of the University’s push to go green and to cut costs. It provides a 100-sheet quota per semester for undergraduate students, a 500-sheet quota for graduate students, and a 1,000-sheet quota for law students. The policy is the product of a working group convened last spring by President Robert A. Brown, which found that in fiscal year 2008 alone, nearly 13 million sheets of paper were used at computer labs managed by BU’s Information Technology.

Michael Krugman, associate vice president for information systems and technology, who chaired the working group, estimates that University printing costs ranged from $1 million to $7 million dollars per year.

The changes that went into effect in September included centralization of services. All computers connected to the University network now send documents to high-speed printers in Mugar Memorial Library, the School of Law (law students only), or mailrooms at select dormitories. The University has closed the resident computer labs and the basement lab at 111 Cummington St.

Students and faculty were concerned and upset when this semester’s changes were announced.

Bavlsik and Shukla penned a proposal in response and sent it to Elmore in mid-October.

University officials from the Provost’s Office and from Information Systems and Technology, as well as Elmore, discussed the student recommendations before meeting with Shukla and Bavlsik Wednesday morning.

The Student Union plans to launch a marketing campaign to spread the word about the reduction, Shukla says. He also hopes the new policy will be programmed to pop up on the home screens of library computers.

Meanwhile, University Provost David Campbell sent out an e-mail yesterday to faculty informing them of the shift.

“I encourage you, in preparing your course materials (including syllabi), to make maximal use of electronic distribution and/or course packets that can be separately purchased and further to reduce printing needs by promoting electronic submission of papers,” the message reads.

BU’s newest printing policy measures up generously when compared with those of other local universities. Tufts University charges 10 cents per sheet, with no free quota. Northeastern University allows students 400 sheets per semester, but charges 10 cents a page after that. And Boston College requires students to charge $15 on their ID cards to cover a three cent per page charge, up to 500 sheets. Students must add more money if they exceed that quota.

Shukla says his research shows that nationwide, most universities do not have quotas, and most charge more than BU’s eight cent fee.

Leslie Friday can be reached at lfriday@bu.edu.


20 Comments on University Responds to Students’ Printing Proposal

  • Abram Trosky on 12.03.2009 at 10:06 am

    cui bene?

    “Every single party that is affected by this had a voice at the table,”

    As far as I know, no one from the Graduate Student Organization was contacted to be involved in these negotiations, despite relaying concerns from our constituency to the appropriate channels (CAS Deans vs. DOS). Perhaps this marginalization results from the illusion that 500 pages is a comfortable buffer for the average student’s needs. I wonder if the administration really thinks Law students are assigned (and read) twice as much printed material as say, a first year political science grad student.

    Abram Trosky
    GSO Vice President

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 10:07 am

    Estimated costs ranging from $1 million to $7 million? That’s a $6 million range for which the disparity is unexplained. These sorts of reckless statements are par for the course for a private school like BU. There’s no pressure to control or account for these costs because it’s the students, not the school who bear these costs. $1 million, $7 million – what’s the difference when we have a captured revenue base that has no choice but to foot the bill of the administrators’ recklessness.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 10:09 am

    Tufts: 500 pages = (.1)*(500 pages) = $50.00
    BU: 500 pages = 100 pages + (.08)*(400 pages) = $32.00
    BC: 500 pages = (.03)*(500 pages) = $15.00
    NE: 500 pages = 400 pages + (.1)*(100 pages) = $10.00


  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 10:29 am

    quite a difference from last year. Grad students had $250 worth of printing, now we’re reduced to 500 pages (times 12 cents per page = $60)

  • Taryn Vian on 12.03.2009 at 10:48 am

    Good governance in action

    I am proud that BU administration has involved students in this policy decision and has modified their proposal based on student input. It shows good governance in action, and the benefits of transparency. Thanks to all who took the time to participate in the process.

  • Andrew R. on 12.03.2009 at 11:30 am

    Okay, so the comparisons at the bottom are bogus. The only one that makes BU look generous is our comparison to Tufts. The rest do not hold up. Northeastern is easily the most generous out of the group. Giving 400 pages for free, and then 10 cents per page after that is much better than the new 100 page, 8 cent policy we are receiving. Boston College’s rates are also more fair, to meet their 500 pages, we would have to spend $32. I do not see how this is a generous offer.

    It would be nice if the justifications would actually justify the 100 page and 8 cent charge.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 11:30 am

    wait the academic cost of print paper I think BU can pay especially since students are paying a large amount of money to attend this school. I have friends that take courses that do not have text books but rather articles that are on line and need to be printed out. Seriously

  • DJ Capobianco on 12.03.2009 at 11:34 am

    Thanks, Provost Campbell

    I think the real progress is the outreach to the faculty. I’m all for reducing unnecessary paper, but students can’t do that if their professors still require every blackboard handout to be printed and brought to class. I’m hopeful Provost Campbell’s note to our professors will enable the entire university community to work together to reduce our environmental impact, rather than trying to find ways around the system (as has been most students experience this semester).

    If BU really wants to change behavior, it’s the demand for printing that needs to decrease—not the supply.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 11:39 am


    I’m pissed off. 4 cents reduction is a good start…but it should be a bigger reduction. BU makes so much profit from its undergrads its ridiculous…its like a money machine. then they nickel and dime us for such stupid stuff like this?

  • Am I Supposed to be excited? on 12.03.2009 at 11:47 am

    Wow BU, thanks for making a small concession that boosts your public image while still allowing you to rake in money from students.
    Still doing what’s best for the university bottom line, not what’s best for the students….and people still think BU should retain it’s non profit status?

    Seriously, if your public relations team were spent half the time they spend finding ways to boost their public image communicating with students and responding to their needs in a big way, this would be a much better school. But really, just keep sitting up in the Ivory Tower on Silber Way disseminating your edicts…it gives my pr professors easy negative case studies.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 11:53 am


    The article mis-reports the printing charge method: The charge is by sheet, not page, where “green” printing uses both sides, and thus gets two pages on a sheet.

  • Charles on 12.03.2009 at 12:39 pm

    “[Elmore] says the University’s lowering of page cost was an effort to ‘meet student demands halfway.'”

    How exactly is dropping our quota from 700 pages to 100 pages meeting us half-way? Our student union is a joke, and in no way accurately represents the student body. “The Student Union plans to launch a marketing campaign to spread the word about the reduction.” Just who are they supposed to be fighting for again?

    “BU’s newest printing policy measures up generously when compared with those of other local universities […] Northeastern University allows students 400 sheets per semester, but charges 10 cents a page after that. And Boston College requires students to charge $15 on their ID cards to cover a three cent per page charge, up to 500 sheets.”

    Could someone please tell me how that is “generous?” I’d take B.C. or Northeastern’s policy any day of the week.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 12:41 pm

    Are you serious....

    That’s it?! A reduction of four cents. What a waste of effort on the part of the students to do anything but be pushed aside by the administration. Way to live down to expectations BU. So glad you’re my institution of higher learning.

  • Charles on 12.03.2009 at 12:43 pm

    Another thing: why does the student union never seem to ask the students how they feel about this stuff? I mean, seriously, just take a look at the comments every time BU Today writes an article about the print quota. 90% of them are anger over how the university is clearly ripping us off.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 1:13 pm

    The $6 million dollar range for annual printing costs is a laughable figure. You might as well have not included it in the article.

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 6:42 pm

    ugh this sucks. this is not a consession. for someone who lives off-campus, works two part time jobs and still cant always pay rent/buy food, i find myself scrouging for printing in random places. this new system sucks, and ive been forced to ask my teachers to print documents for me since they have no cap. and mine gets used up. if i have a 15 page paper and revise it a few times, thats almost half my cap gone right there. f*uck that. four cents is NOTHING

  • Anonymous on 12.03.2009 at 9:19 pm

    In my opinion, the major problem is not the quota, but the closing of several PC labs campus wide. IT IS REALLY INCONVENIENT TO GO ALL THE AWAY TO MUGAR TO PRINT!! I want to print some stuff for tomorrow’s classes at 11PM, and it is impossible for me to walk down to Mugar at that time!

  • Anonymous on 12.04.2009 at 12:36 am


  • Anonymous on 12.07.2009 at 7:42 pm

    Paying for printing?

    UAFS has just started the charging students 10 cents per page this year. I say it’s BS!!! Students already have to pay for the technology for computer use!!! That should cover the paper cost!!! Overall this is BS because not every student has the time and money to go and put money onto their ID cards. All my classes this semester are partially done on blackboard and everything needs to be printed. What ever happened to teachers giving student the assignments in person. Having to print everything and pay for it is killing me and I’m sure it’s hurting many other students!!! We already have enough to worry about no need for screwing us over when ever we need to print a 10 page research paper in the moring for class and find out that we’re out of money on our printing account. The school already makes enough ripping students off with stupid fees that come with our tuition fees.

  • .....ok....... on 01.11.2010 at 11:14 am

    For the love of god, I can understand the ****storm raised about the labs going away, but the price on the print pages has all of you riled up? For crying out loud, $80 will buy you 1,000 sheets. Just dine out a few times less in a semester and cut back on your booze a bit. $80 may be a bit hard to come up with, but if that’s going to be your “doomsday” thing, then you are going to be SOL in the real world. Complaining about them taking away the lab and the quota, I can understand, but the actual price per sheet? Jesus, grow up.

    And before one of you butts in with a “well you don’t work so you don’t know what its like,” I do. Two part time jobs a week for 30 total hours, and I tutor on the weekends too. And I pay for my own room and board with the money I saved from working now and from my high school savings. My tuition is paid for by the university. So please, no BS excuses about not being able to find the money. If I can find the dough to pony up $160 for two semesters worth of printing, you can too.

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