AUP’s Printing Predicament
From the AUP Student Handbook 2017-2018, on the subject of the student printing allowance: “Each semester, a certain number of ‘free’ pages are allocated to each student.”
This sentence gives me contradictory feelings. Free is a good word. In fact, it’s my favorite word. But something about those quotation marks… they’re ominous. In AUP, like many schools, “free” doesn’t actually mean free. It means this is your money, that we took, and we are allowing you to use it… for another 75 days.
The Student Union and AUPGreen are championing a cause, called the Print-Less AUP Initiative, to reduce our paper waste, and this is what we’ve learned so far. Here’s the nitty-gritty: our fifty euros of printing allowance is part of an operations budget that is taken from our tuition. Those of us who print five euros worth of paper per semester are paying the same for printing as those of us who print the full fifty euros. While this shared cost is useful for those of us who are writing theses and doing intense research that requires a lot of paper, that’s a rare occurrence. On average, each student uses about five euros a month, according to statistics from IT. That’s a fraction of the fifty euros you’re allotted. The fifty euro allowance encourages over-printing and paper wastage.
According to the IT department, about 40% of the paper usage at AUP is waste. We would print less if we were personally responsible for each cent we spent on paper. For example, at my previous college in California, we would fill our printing account at the start of every semester. I would usually put ten dollars into my account and that would last me for months. Whatever I didn’t use would either be rolled over into the next semester, or would be refunded to me if I so chose. The printing system we already use, Papercut, has a pay-as-you-go option built in. Switching over to that option would be easy.
If you want to get involved or have any suggestions, contact AUPGreen. They are heading this initiative in their attempts to make AUP more sustainable. The next steps for the Print-Less AUP Initiative is to collect information from environmentally friendly university and college campuses to better inform the cause. We want to learn what those campuses are doing to reduce their paper consumption, and if their experience can help us at AUP. It is common sense that a pay-as-you-go system will reduce paper waste and save us all money, so we are collecting the data to prove it.