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SMC printing clusters to charge fees

Emily Lavelle | Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Saint Mary’s students used to free printing in campus computer clusters will be confronted with a “pay-to-print” system to be implemented by Information Technology this fall.

The transition from a free printing system to a payment program has been underway for a long time, chief information officer Keith Fowlkes said. Fowlkes assisted in making the decision to adopt such a program.

“It’s not abnormal that we are moving to ‘pay to print’ software,” he said. “Saint Mary’s is actually one of the last schools to make the switch. Many schools, including Notre Dame, have had similar programs for years.”

Once the system is implemented in fall of 2006, Hausman said, students will be given a print quota. Once they exceed this allotment of pages they will be charged money to print, she said.

While the College has taken student perspectives into consideration, the decision to implement the “pay to print” system is final, said Kathy Hausman of Information Technology. Students may see test models appear as early as this spring.

“We hope [students] have a chance to see the software and become familiar with it before the print quota and charges for exceeding the quota are in place,” she said.

The IT department has not yet determined the exact quota or cost of printing but they are looking at different systems as models, Fowlkes said,.

“Right now [we] are looking at Notre Dame’s system, which allows students to print 1,000 pages per year. Any sheet over that would cost about ten cents,” he said.

But whether or not Saint Mary’s uses the same printing service as Notre Dame has yet to be determined. Fowlkes said it is one of many operating units the school is considering and a decision has not been reached.

Freshman Jessica Porter said she is not opposed to the adoption of a model like Notre Dame’s.

“I’m glad they are setting a quota instead of just including an additional fee into tuition, because some of us won’t use all of our allotted 1,000 pages,” she said. “This is a fair way to do it.”

Like Porter, sophomore Kelly Maus said she thinks that setting a quota is a feasible way to manage student printing.

“I’m not opposed to the print quota, as long as it is easy for me to keep track of how much I’ve used and how much I have left,” Maus said.

Hausman said tracking the quota will be easy for students. When a student logs into a cluster computer, a small window will appear to notify the student how much of her print quota is remaining. When a documented is printed, a window will reveal each paper’s name, amount of pages and specific printer.

The student will then be prompted to enter her Saint Mary’s username and password to confirm the print job.

“This extra layer of security will prevent students from using up someone else’s print quota if they forget to log out of a cluster computer,” Hausman said.

The number of pages printed will then be subtracted from the student’s remaining print quota.

Students who exceed their print quota will be able to purchase print cards that will give them a pin number to enter into a Web page and increase their quota.

This method allows students to increase their quota as needed, Hausman said, without having to wait for others to manually increase their quota.

Fowlkes said members of Saint Mary’s were reluctant to adopt the program, but were forced to as a result of students’ wasteful printing habits.

According to Hausman, IT has noticed an increase in waste over the past two years. And Fowlkes said many students have disregarded the College’s spoken printing quota.

“We begged and pleaded with students to be mindful of their printing habits,” he said. “We even restricted printing multiple copies of a document and we posted signs with instructions on how to print on both sides to encourage students to be less wasteful.”

However, these educational initiatives have had minimal effect, Hausman said, and Saint Mary’s still pays for excessive paper waste.

Fowlkes said he wants students to see the positive aspects of implanting such a system, as the money that would be spent on wasted printing supplies will go toward exciting new technology for the College.

“We are really sad that we had to do this, but at the same time, there are many positives about what we are doing,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of money on high-speed cable and on digital cable – things that students really appreciate and can take advantage of.

“This saved money will help bring in more of those technologies.”