North Texas Daily

University printing fee an unnecessary cost

University printing fee an unnecessary cost

University printing fee an unnecessary cost
September 30
00:04 2014

When Neal Smatresk was anointed UNT president earlier this year, he didn’t exactly inherit a financial gold mine. In his state of the university address last week, the new leader called UNT’s current financial crisis “daunting.” Who could blame him?

UNT’s previous financial officials taking potentially more than $70 million in funds that the university wasn’t authorized to have is indeed daunting, to say the least. To get back in the black, sacrifices are going to have to be made. Smatresk made that abundantly clear.

But making students pay for printing at Willis Library isn’t a viable sacrifice.

In the past, students have been able to print necessary school material at the library for free. Yes, there were restrictions placed on what could and couldn’t be printed, but there was no financial cap. That’s changed this semester.

For those who haven’t yet made the trek to Club Willis for an all-nighter, students now have just $10 in free credit to print necessary syllabi, articles, PowerPoint presentations, course material or whatever is needed for the entire semester. There’s a reason for that, a reason that Smatresk didn’t have any control over.

The Dallas Morning News reports that UNT’s library system has to absorb $1.7 million in budget cuts to cover employee benefits, which, again, were misused by the previous financial regime. But making students pay for printing necessary material after $10 worth of paper and ink won’t help the university’s financial situation.

Since UNT announced its partnership with Office Depot in November 2013, all of UNT’s campuses have spent $205,048 on paper, toner and ink. The switch is apparently saving the university more than $9,000, which makes the new printing cap even more frustrating.

Students are already paying enough fees as it is. Seniors are paying $167 a semester for a Union that they’ll never get to see or use as a student. There’s a $78 unofficial gym membership to the recreation center that has to be paid for each semester. And the library that students use, the library that is now charging to print, is $16.50 per credit hour (roughly $247.50 for those taking 15 hours, which is recommended by the university to graduate in four years).

And we haven’t even mentioned how students spend nearly $1,200 on textbooks per year.

There were, however, a few attempts to soften the blow of paying to print.

Students are given one printing extension per semester. Once a printing credit gets below $1, a student can fill out a form and receive a response within two business days (if your schoolwork can afford to wait that long).

Students can also add more money into their accounts. Or that was the plan at least. The website’s accessibility has been hit-and-miss.

Whoops.

Smatresk told the Morning News that the university’s path back to getting into the black “won’t be borne on the backs of our students.” He also said in his address that UNT has $9.1 million in funds as a last-resort snatch-and-grab for any unforeseen circumstances that could arise.

Just a fraction of that emergency fund could double or even eliminate the printing cap that is currently in place. That way students could have their necessary school material and just enough cash left over for some ramen.

Joshua Friemel is a journalism senior. He can be reached at joshua.friemel@gmail.com.

Featured Illustration by Jake Bowerman – Senior Staff Illustrator

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