There it was tucked away in Ramona Speranza’s “University Honors Program: Mid-Summer News and Notes.” The brief blurb announced the cessation of free printing for UD Honors students in Alumni Hall as of the 2018-2019 AY.
Personally, this announcement had little effect on me. While I utilized the free printing my freshman year, I have since used my roommate’s printer. However, the ending of the free Honors printing privilege, which began in 2013, is the climax of a dramatic saga. One that started on October 5, 2017.
On that day, UD Honors students woke up to a fiery email from the normally equanimous director of the University Honors Program, Dr. John McCombe. In the email, he announced Honors printing would be suspended because an Honors student stole paper from another office in Alumni Hall and used it for themselves.
More information came out later that similar occurrences had been repeatedly happening. For example, there were instances of Honors students letting their non-Honors friends use the free printer.
Free Honors printing returned a few weeks later with the caveat that its future was uncertain. But the future of free Honors printing was uncertain even prior to the paper thief incident. For instance, the Honors staff required students using the printers for the 2017-18 AY to bring their own paper.
Dr. McCombe asked for student feedback in an attempt to make Honors printing sustainable, but I’m going to go ahead and guess no or few students took him up on the offer.
The email announcement listed the increase in UD Honors students and desire to put more spending into Honors programs and experiential opportunities as reasons for the elimination of free Honors printing.
Even though I appreciated that free printing was a benefit all Honors students could use (and I hope it will eventually return), I have to agree with this logic. The Honors program was set up to provide professional development and advanced academic coursework, not free printing for students with a GPA above a 3.6.
Now, because people tend not to read emails from Ramona Speranza in full, I’ve got a feeling the drama surrounding free Honors printing will reignite when the fall semester begins.
However, my suggestion to these future hypothetical Honors student “printer activists” is to focus attention on the lack of printing campus-wide instead of fighting for a return of free Honors printing.
Roesch Library is the only guaranteed spot on campus where any current staff, faculty or student can print. At present, there are only four printers in Roesch, which are expected to provide for, in theory, nearly 11,000 students. Although it does cost .04¢ per printed page, the greater issue is that the printers are prone to breakdown (sometimes daily).
I know this because one of my on-campus jobs is to fix the library printers when they inevitably jam and crash.
Roesch Library is undergoing a renovation. The plans seem really cool, but my hope is in all the hype surrounding it that someone thought to invest in more and better printers, or set up another location where any UD student can easily print.
College students are known for whining about a lot of things, but I think printing, or lack thereof, is a valid subject of discontent. Surprisingly, there is still a large amount of paper needed for students in the digital age.
Nonetheless, it’s important to consider all factors and complain about and advocate for changes that can actually be practically implemented.