Pay to print: new quota

Josh Goodman

When first-year Lyndsey Sherman printed an assignment for her Core class last week, she had to release her printing job using a new program called GoPrint. For each page she printed, five cents were deducted from her new printing account.

Her experience is the experience of the entire Whitman population. With the start of the spring semester, printing is no longer unlimited; instead, 60 dollars of printing credits are granted to each student. Single-sided black-and-white printing costs five cents per page, while printing double-sided costs nice cents front and back.

“You’re more conscious of it,” Sherman said. “If it’s reading online that [I} have to do, I’ll just read it off my computer instead of printing it because it can be really long.”

The idea behind the printing quota is to conserve paper and ink and limit wear and tear to college-owned printers, which printed over 868,000 pages last semester.   It appears to be working, too.

Within the first 10 days of spring semester, printing was already down 30.1 percent, or over 4100 pages compared to the start of term last semester.

That pleases Campus Sustainability Coordinator senior Karlis Rokpelnis.

“I think we’ve had a very strong use of electronic documents for the past few years, so now starting to apply pressure on reducing the actual printing will have large savings,” said Rokpelnis, adding that the extra step of releasing the job “gives you another time to stop and think, and [if] it’s something that you have forgotten it doesn’t get printed, as opposed to you print it and then you forget it.”

GoPrint, however, is still in its pilot phase, and its experienced difficulties along with its successes.

Last week, printing to certain library printers resulted in excess charges.

“We are doing troubleshooting with the vendor,” WCTS Middleware Analyst Mike Osterman said. “You’ll get your money back, you’ll get a page credit for every job that you print to that printer.”

Overall, though, Osterman is impressed by how smoothly the program is running. “I think [there are] fewer technical problems than we had anticipated,” he said, adding that “it’s still a lot of work.”

While WCTS works on smoothing out the remaining kinks over the next few weeks, attention is being shifted towards the future of the program.

Two community forums, whose dates are yet to be determined, will be held to let the Whitman community voice their opinions of the project and suggest changes that should be made in the fall, when full implementation is to occur.

Rokpelnis feels that one of those changes should be a reduced quota.  

“Half of the students versus 90 percent,” he said as a matter of personal opinion.   This refers to the 1200 page (60 dollar) printing allowance WCTS decided on based on last semester’s statistics, making it so 90 percent of students wouldn’t have to change their printing habits to avoid running out of free printing.

Yet, by the early signs of the pilot phase, even continuing to cover 90 percent of students will mean a drastically lower quota.

Sherman would like it if WCTS “gave you an amount per month: then you wouldn’t overspend.”

Most people agree that though the program may not be perfect, it’s doing a lot of good.

“It takes a longer time and can be cumbersome to be releasing your print job,” Rokpelnis said. But he thinks “it’s going in the right direction. Getting that implemented is the right thing to do, and it will have results.”

The exact long-term results will depend on what’s changed for full implementation. All are encouraged to put forth their comments and suggestions at the upcoming community forums.