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Changes to printing policy spark conversation

| Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Notre Dame’s Office of Information Technologies (OIT) overhauled the University’s printing system during the summer, implementing changes that include consolidating campus printers to two queues and changing students’ printing allotments to a point-based system.

Vice president for information technology Ron Kraemer, who also serves as chief information and digital officer, said the purpose of the changes was to simplify printing on campus and reduce both waste and printing costs.

“The University and the OIT know that students need to print, and we want to deliver easy and cost-effective printing solutions for campus while still maintaining a high level of quality,” Kraemer said.

In previous years, students would send printing jobs from their computers to one of several queues depending on their location. Now, students can send printing jobs to every black-and-white printer or every color printer on campus at once, Kraemer said.

In addition, students’ standard printing quotas, or the amount each student is allowed to print from campus printers, switched from a dollar amount to a point system. According to the OIT website, undergraduate students receive a quota of 1,000 points per semester. Each single- or double-sided black-and-white page costs two points, and each color page costs 12 points. Graduate students receive 3,500 points per year, and law students receive 4,250.

Kraemer said points not used during the fall semester roll over to the spring semester, but points left over at the end of the year do not roll over to subsequent years, a change from the previous policy. He said students can increase their quotas by paying $3 for 100 points.

Kraemer said the point system would be easier to use than a dollar amount, and the new standard quota, although a decrease from the former yearly allotment, reflected the number of pages students typically print.

“The PrintND system shows that more than 90 percent of students print within 2,000 points each academic year,” Kraemer said.

Students have expressed concern that the new standard quota will not allow them to print as often as they need. Sophomore Jackie Winsch said materials for classes and projects have used a significant amount of her points.

“I was a week into school, and I was already a quarter of the way down, and then we did this half-hour presentation in one of my classes the other day, and we had to print a colored paper front and back, and it was like 50 points,” Winsch said. “It’s a really drastic change from having so much extra to being worried about running out.”

Winsch said the change has prompted her to exercise caution with the number of pages she prints.

“I don’t just print anything,” she said. “I have to make sure it’s double-sided, and [think], do I really need this? And I print four on a page — it’s really hard to read, but I get the most out of it.”

Freshman Olivia Colon said the point system was easy to understand, but she worried about the allotment of pages. Her biology class requires her to print out PowerPoint slides and pre-lab information.

“I feel like it’s been two weeks, and I’m already running out of points,” Colon said. “The classes that I have to take require me to print out a lot of stuff from Sakai and whatnot, and I just feel like 1,000 [points] isn’t enough. It may seem like a lot, but it’s not. It goes fast.”

In addition to students being able to pay for increased allotments, professors also can use department funds to increase printing quotas for their classes or for individual students, according to the OIT website.

Dan Graff, director of undergraduate studies of the department of history, said he often requires students in his classes to print out materials and bring them to class. He said his students have expressed concerns about using up their quotas in previous years but never this early in the semester.

“Students might be getting mixed messages, that OIT suggests that they should be printing less,” Graff said. “. . . We don’t want you to be printing less because we want our classrooms to be technology-free spaces where there’s no distractions from email and Facebook and those kinds of things, so we want them to have stuff printed out.”

Kraemer said OIT is open to input from students. At the beginning of the semester, printing a single-sided page cost twice as many points as printing a double-sided page, but OIT reduced the price of single-sided pages this week after receiving feedback from student government. Kraemer said the point allotment on a per-semester basis also leaves open the possibility for future changes.

“The OIT opted to divide the quota for undergraduates between the fall and spring semester so that if students need us to make adjustments, we can make them at the winter break,” Kraemer said.

Kraemer said OIT consulted student government and other campus organizations before implementing printing policy changes. Junior Shuyang Li, director of student government’s department of campus technology, said his division recommended simplifying printing quotas last spring and this semester supported the reduction in the price of printing a one-sided sheet.

Li said student government also was working with OIT to communicate the changes to students. He said OIT technology liaisons in each residence hall explained the quota system to incoming freshmen during orientation, but student government and OIT were still looking for ways to reach upperclassmen.

Li said student government was gathering feedback on the new system from Student Senate members and dorm technology liaisons.

“We’re trying to get a compiled opinion on the changes, and we’re going to pose that to OIT and try to . . . make sure that the printing quota system is what students want,” he said.

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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