A newly-developed program intended to raise awareness of the environmental impact of student printing on-campus was implemented earlier this month, say directors of Manhattan College’s Information Technology Services.
“In spring of 2013, IT was approached by the Sustainability Committee who asked if there was a technological solution to limit printing,” Director of ITS Jake Holmquist said. “We tested different technologies and found something that was cost effective.”
After receiving the Sustainability Committee’s request, Holmquist said ITS began tracking student printing habits so that they could report the habits to the committee.
“We implemented a system a year ago to collect data,” Holmquist said. “Halfway through the semester we presented our findings to the sustainability committee.”
After reviewing the data, Holmquist said, the committee proposed setting a 1000 page per semester limit on printing.
“From our findings, less than 10 percent of students used over 1000 pages per semester,” Holmquist said.
Once the limit was established and technology needed to manage it was installed a few weeks ago, students attempting to print from school computers were prompted to input their email and password and confirm their print order. They were also give a number of prints remaining for the semester.
Many students expressed confusion about the new system, citing uncertainty about what happens when the 1000 page limit is reached, whether or not they have to pay for prints and why the system was implemented in the first place. Students, teachers and staff said they think better communication could have made for a smoother transition to the new system.
“I just assumed you only had 1000 pages you could print per semester,” fourth-year student Alex Benator said. “I just saw a page count when I went to print. Otherwise, I had not heard of anything.”
“A lot of students told me it just sprung out of nowhere; a lot of them are concerned that they’re going to get charged,” O’Malley Library clerk Diane Cocurullo said. “Practically everyone felt this came out of the blue and they should have been better informed.”
According to Richard Musal, senior assistant director of client services and operations for ITS and O’Malley Library Executive Director William Walters, the 1000 page per semester limit is the standard limit initially given to all students, but additional prints can be added as many times as needed throughout the semester at no cost to students.
“I’m happy to report no one will have to pay for extra prints,” Walters said. “We don’t want to limit printing and we don’t want to make money off of students. We just want people to be conscious of their printing.”
“When people have 250 remaining prints, they will get an email… directing students to a survey” about what they print and why, Walters said. “Once they fill out the survey their printing limit will be refilled automatically [at no cost].”
Musal also stressed that the system’s preliminary objective is to be environmentally conscious and help reduce the school’s carbon footprint.
“While it seems like an inconvenience, the main goal here is to impress upon people the… environment and ‘do we need to use this paper; do we need to use this printer?’” Musal said.
While the number of pages printed per student will now be tracked, Holmquist insisted that students were still free to print as usual.
“There’s no content filtering on the printers,” Holmquist said. “We want to make it as free and accessible as possible.”