Students who once printed everything a professor posted on SOCS or ran off flyers for organizations in College computer labs now may need to think again.
Starting this semester, Information Technology (IT) has implemented PrintSense, a program that will track a user’s printing and automatically bill $0.05 per page when students pass the pre-set 600 page per semester limit.
According to IT, PrintSense is an effort to enforce responsible printing on campus.
The concept began four years ago when IT noticed a spike in printing on lab computers.
When the department ran out of money to pay for toner and ink out of a budget earmarked for those items, it also began to look into ways to control toner and paper costs.
Implementation of the PrintSense program itself started two years ago, when IT installed monitoring systems on lab computers to make sure that the software worked correctly and to gather data on printer usage.
According to Frank Nardozza, associate director of access technology, the College experienced increases on average between 12 and 15 percent per year in printing use since monitoring began.
The resulting expenses for providing toner and paper beyond what was budgeted ran “tens of thousands” of dollars in the last two years.
To defray costs of running so many copies, IT instituted a $0.05 fee for each copy run that was over a certain set allocation.
IT found on average that each student printed 353 pages during fall 2003, but deferred implementing a 400 page allocation in anticipation of the transformed curriculum.
It had intended to implement 400 pages per student for spring 2005, but held off on the recommendation of the Student Government Association (SGA) to test the program and monitor use further.
IT’s studies revealed that approximately 80 percent of students printed below 600 pages each semester. The remaining 20 percent that printed above used far more paper than the rest of the students.
For example, during spring 2005, the 80 percent below the page limit ran off 910,266 copies in total, while the 20 percent above the page limit used 1,361,725 sheets of paper in total.
The numbers were more striking for fall 2004 where the 78 percent of students under the 600 page limit used only 879,546 sheets and those over used 1,832,277.
IT emphasized its goal was not to take money from students’ pockets.
“We are not using it as a way to make money,” Nardozza said. “We’re using it as a way to control costs.”
IT also said it was trying to be responsive to student and school concerns. IT had Records and Registration analyze the majors of students who printed above 600 pages to see if there was a correlation between certain schools or majors and students who printed over 600 pages. No correlations were found.
It also met with the school of Nursing that had expressed concerns that its students might need more pages.
For Nursing, IT learned that while many resources were online, none were required to be printed out.
“We tried to respond to every concern raised to us,” Jeff Kerswill, director of user support services said.
SGA, which consulted with IT about PrintSense, said it was satisfied with the 600 page allocation.
“Six hundred pages should be fine,” Lee Whitesell, vice president of Academic Affairs, said. “Printers aren’t meant to be copy machines.”
Whitesell said the program encourages a general atmosphere for accountability and responsibility.
He added he was concerned about the wear and tear on the printers themselves, which were handling print volumes more appropriate for copy machines.
Whitesell said he was working with IT to set up PrintSense accounts for major organizations to print materials rather than force them to use their members’ 600 page allocations.
Some students felt that PrintSense was unfairly punishing regular students in an effort to eliminate waste.
“I think PrintSense is not targeting the real problem,” Tom Sales, junior political science major, said.
“The real problem is those who print 23,000 copies.”
Other students agreed.
“I think teachers should be aware we’re paying because they require us to print out pages for class,” Brittany Horne, sophomore sociology major, said.
But for IT, the message of PrintSense is to think before you print.
“The message has got to get out there,” Nardozza said. “You don’t have to print everything.”