OPINION: Campus printing services need work

Every time I have to swipe my card to print out yet another sheet of paper, a rush of fear runs through me. What if I don’t have enough print credits? I have the usual five or six sheets to print for my writer’s circle every week, and maybe another eight when I have assignments—but those 10 cents add up, and yet again I find my card empty. 

And if it’s not my card that won’t work, it’s the printer in the University Centre—and then I have to run to the nearest building, only to find the printer there is broken too.

Despite being students in a digital age, most professors still request hard copies for assignments. Papers only get longer as you move through your years at Carleton, and so do the lineups at the printers. 

It’s not just assignments students are left responsible for printing. When professors post readings online, many say that we should be printing the readings to optimize the information we internalize. While it’s great to save a few hundred dollars on a textbook that’ll barely be opened, there’s still the consideration of: do I really need to print this when I can just bring my laptop to class? 

Students at Algonquin College have 1,000 sheets per semester in printing credits. That’s more than enough for a student to print not only school assignments and readings, but also their résumés and cover letters. And if the assumption is that free printing will result in printing useless pages simply to wreak havoc, having a cap as Algonquin does reduces that risk. A thousand free pages to print per semester is practically unlimited, yet knowing there is a cap means students would be likely to use the printer responsibly.

But the cost of printing isn’t the only problem Carleton students face. The printers themselves need to be maintained better in order to be useful. As the fourth month of the semester rolls around and the need to print final papers skyrockets, printers are often found out of ink, out of paper, or in need of some other kind of mysterious maintenance. With the number of students needing to print out their work, it’s understandable that printers would break down. This could be remedied by having more printers around campus. Many are placed inconveniently and cannot be found unless you look hard for them, and the ones in the library and the University Centre are frequently crowded—when they’re not broken down. 

It’s great that the Print Shop in Robertson Hall provides students with the ability to access printers so easily, but how useful is that when half of the printers don’t work when you need them to?

The incoming 2017/18 CUSA executive has promised free printing for students through their office; perhaps they should also lobby for better costs and maintenance of current printing services as well. Printing is a substantial student need that should be advocated for by fellow students with authority.

The best way to figure out what students need is to ask the students themselves. Just as technology has allowed professors to post readings online, it’s also a great way to conduct polls and ask Carleton students to respond with how much they print in a semester, and to use that information to figure out how many pages to work into the budget for campus services. Tuition is rising, and so are expenses. Of all the services to improve on campus, an improvement to printing services will surely be welcomed by all students.

– Photo by Trevor Swann