Free printing will be limited next year 1

By Brad Barber

(Illustration by Cate Rinchak).

The student printing experience will change for the 2013-14 academic school year.

The reforms aim to better the student printing experience while providing higher quality printing at a cheaper cost, Gary Campbell, director of technology services, said. The unlimited, no-charge printing included for students of the university will be restricted as a result of the change.

“Number one, we hope to improve the student printing experience and therefore student satisfaction,” Campbell said. “Number two, we’d like to eliminate a lot of wasted printing.”

The discussions to implement the change began during this year’s budget process, but were submitted too late to be implemented for this academic school year, Campbell said. Julie Hendryx, interim vice president for business and finance, said that technology services had been tracking the printing levels for several years and that they saw some wasteful printing occurring.

Campbell said that complaints from students about their experience with campus printers initiated the change. The current system, where there is no charge per print job no matter the size, includes having printers on each floor of every residence hall in addition to printers in the academic buildings around campus.

However, this system is often problematic for students, he said. The printers did not always work, or they would print unfinished jobs from other students when a student placed his or her paper in the printer.

“It’s not been a very satisfactory student printing experience,” Campbell said. “So we took some steps … but you still had the basic issue of hardware reliability.”

He said that other colleges have the same problems with student printing in the residence halls. Some colleges have decided to drop support of student printing in residence halls altogether, but Campbell said that the concept of “follow-me” printing became the most appealing.

“Instead of printing to a printer, you print a job,” he said. “Then you are able to walk up to a printer … swipe your ID badge, and your job prints there.”

Junior Jennifer Doriot picks up her print job at a library printer. The reform tentatively will replace these printers with new, multiple function printers. (Photo by Jared Huhta)

Once the student sends the print job to the follow-me printing system, the job is held in that students’ account for a predetermined period of time. The student can then access the job from any multiple function printer (MFP) in the network, instead of the current system, which requires the student to go to the printer that they selected. Students will be able to send the print job from network computers, personal computers, smartphones or tablets. The current printing system does not support smartphones or tablets, Campbell said.

The reform will increase the amount of options on campus for students to use color printing and will reduce the price of color printing for both the university and the students. Currently students desiring to print in color from a campus printer must go to the Richlyn Library, the only source of color printing for students, and pay $0.25 per side. The new system will lower that fee to $0.11. The lower price will result from the MFPs that will be installed on campus.

The $250 technology fee that all full-time students will be charged starting this fall will cover the cost of the new Wi-Fi system and the MFPs, Hendryx said. The MFPs are cheaper to print on when printing mass quantities like the campus does and will provide more options for students. Students will start to be able to print in color in multiple locations, copy and will be able to scan. Not every MFP will print color, but every one will be able to copy and scan.

The tentative plan is to install 11 MFPs across campus. The MFPs will replace the existing printers in most cases by consolidating numerous individual printers with one MFP. Currently, the plan calls for Wright and Hardy to share a MFP, and Baker and Roush to share one also.
“We really want students to use these [the MFPS],” he said. “The MFPs cost us less to print on than a regular printer because they use toner rather than some other technologies.”

Above are some Fast Facts on peer institutions' student printing policies. Information for the graph was gathered from each institution's library. (Graph by Brad Barber)

Hendryx stressed the higher quality printing that will be provided through the use of MFPs.

“You’re going to have all the finishing products – the stapling, the hole punching, and you should have the ability to do booklets,” she said. “I think students will certainly appreciate that.”

The new system will have the added benefit of potentially reducing wasted printing. Campbell said that most students send the print job multiple times. This should be resolved by the follow-me printing system, where the MFP does not print the item until the student walks up to the MFP and swipes his or her student ID card.

The reduction in wasted printing could also come from the fee that will be charged to every student per side printed. Students will be charged $0.04 per black and white side and $0.11 per color side.

“Eighty percent of students will see no change,” Campbell said. “The rate is very good – and you get that [rate] because we do about 3 million sides a year.”

Campbell said the fee is so that Huntington can recoup the incremental charges of printing – the paper, toner and fee per side that the printing company charges. These charges come with every print job, and the charge represents only those costs.

Each student account will have $20 credited to a personal printing account at the beginning of each semester. The students will be able to roll over any balance in their account at the end of each semester, Campbell said. Accounts will be zeroed out when a student graduates or does not return.

Students will be able to purchase added credit for their accounts in increments, he said.

Campbell said the per semester credit of $20 was decided because that would allow a total of 1,000 pages per year. Currently, 80 percent of students print less than 1,000 pages per school year.

The fee may encourage some students to reduce their printing to below the 1,000 page per year mark. Campbell said that scanning will be free and could reduce the need for printing.

“Instead of copying an article at the library, you can scan it and send it to yourself in your email and you have a PDF now that you can look at,” he said.

Junior Volodymyr Budnichenko said that he was disappointed with the news that students would start to be charged. He thought that the fee was small and the university had been covering it, so they should be able to continue to cover it under the new system.

“I feel like the university could spare the little bit of extra money to supply the student body with printing,” he said. “I don’t think that four cents per page is that much money to spare.”

Campbell stressed that the system will develop as it progresses, but proposals from students on how to make it work better or more fairly would be welcome after it is implemented.

One comment on “Free printing will be limited next year

  1. Reply anonymous Apr 5,2013 11:05 am

    First you want to charge an additional $250 per student to upgrade your system. If the student population is around 1000, that means you are collecting $250,000 for the upgrade alone. Then you want to charge an additional $20 per semester for printing costs. And if you don’t use up your $20, it will roll into the next semester. But if you don’t return to school or graduate, do you get the remainder of your money back? Probably not. Since students are swiping their IDs for the print to occur, why not keep track of that and at the end of the semester, give them a printing bill that if they don’t pay, they can’t register for classes.

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