Nov 152011
 
Authors: Elisabeth Willner

CSU students using printers in labs across campus will print more than 60,000 pages by the end of an average day.

And while that number may spike during weeks like this, the infamous “dead week” before Thanksgiving break, students may soon see changes in the way computer labs are run.

The College Information Technology Administrators Council (CITAC) is considering offering an opt-in centralized system on campus.

The new system, which would be run through the program PaperCut, could replace printing allotments with pay-to-print systems similar to the one currently in place in the Morgan Library.

CITAC is also considering adding a system of laptop checkout points and printing kiosks. Students could send documents remotely to the kiosks, which would be located all over campus, and swipe their ID card to retrieve them.

“Computer labs really are on the way out,” said Zach Lund, the director of intra-university computer labs, about the potential change. “A lot of the people that are coming into our labs are coming in to print and not to study.”

Currently, the University Tech Fee Manual governs most of the basic printing requirements, but each college functions independently, since student printing needs differ depending on what they’re studying.

“It’s not tracked centrally,” said Edgar Peyronnin, the director of IT for the College of Agriculture and chair of CITAC, explaining how each college has different needs met by different printing systems. “There’s no reason to track it centrally. We don’t want to take away people’s independence or freedom.”

Students pay technology fees or charges for technology (CFTs) depending on their major. The fee covers all tech services, including the materials and technology for printing. Sometimes a specific amount goes to printing, but in most colleges it doesn’t.

Each college then individually allots a certain number of pages or amount of money that students can use to print. Students pay indirectly for the printing through CFTs.

“There’s no such thing as free printing,” Peyronnin said. “Someone else is paying for it or you are.”

The system has a couple snags, however.

Students can print in any lab if they’re taking a course in that college, so sometimes they end up printing in labs where they haven’t paid fees. In colleges like the College Liberal Arts, which serves most of the student population regardless of major, the budget must be stretched to make up for extra printing.

Also, while only a minority of students, less than 2 percent on average, run out of their allotted printing credits, some don’t always pay attention to the amount of pages they print.

“What I’m finding is happening instead of students using this technology to read, they’re printing out,” said Debby Luntsford, the manager of the Clark C145 computer lab. “They’re coming and printing entire books. That’s not the intention of the technology.”

With the current system, change might be difficult since every college would have to decide for itself whether to opt-in.

Since all decisions must be considered by committees, change may happen at a glacial pace, said David Thilmany, the representative for the College of Liberal Arts in CITAC.

Thilmany said the shift could nonetheless happen if the colleges accept it and students respond favorably.

“On the technical end of things, it’s definitely possible to work towards that end, if that’s what students want to do,” he said.

Collegian writer Elisabeth Willner can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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