E-reserves, books strain budget

Each semester you anticipate that given your limited budget, you can buy the books on your extensive book list a day or two into class and not fall too much behind. You search online, visit Sweeny's College Books and you are finally able to get a few cents off the ridiculous prices at BookMarq.

And having spent $300 or $400 this semester, you hope that's all these classes are going to cost you. Little did you know that buried inside the syllabus, are extra readings not in any of those five books you purchased for the class, but rather online in our library's electronic reserves.

Professors are always keen on ensuring that you get your money's worth inside the classroom. They want to make sure you read the scholarly work done on the topic at hand, which means that they often have to go out of their ways to put tons of articles for you on e-reserves.

With a new policy initiative by Raynor Libraries, their freedom to overindulge in online resources may be limited. According to Chris Pivonka,the library's class reserve supervisor, Marquette has been far behind other universities in instituting protections against copyright violations. Professors can now post no more than 10 percent of any book or journal on e-reserves, preventing publishers from taking action against the university.

The new policy may be problematic for professors used to putting chapters of expensive textbooks on reserve. For students however, it may be a blessing considering the costs of printing hundreds of pages and the strain of reading 60 pages with your head titled to the side.

PrintWise costs could exceed $130 dollars a semester if you were required to print just three 40-page documents a week. Your measly $14 of PrintWise money won't last you the first month of classes.

Considering the amount of readings reserve-savvy professors tend to assign, it's likely your printing costs are as expensive as the books you purchased and haven't opened yet.

So why are poor indebted college students being asked to cough up more dough to supplement their classroom lectures? Why can't professors decide whether their e-reserve readings or their book list is more important for an undergraduate course?

There are no polices within the College of Arts & Sciences that require professors to assign a textbook for a class, according to Mary Dunnwald, associate dean for budget and finance for the college.

Professors who find documents on e-reserve are crucial to their courses shouldn't require unnecessary books that they don't intend on using.

Perhaps the library is right to institute greater limitations on how much of a book professors can copy, but then again, e-reserves provide an easy way to get material to students.

However, the onus should be on professors to evaluate which material is really important and to assign either books or e-reserves and not both, because having both makes one course too costly for our budgets.

This editorial was published in The Marquette Tribune on September 13, 2005.

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