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The GW Hatchet

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SA votes against printing fee

The Student Association took a stance against possible printing fees at Gelman library last week, passing a resolution recommending the University refrain from charging students for what they consider a basic service.

The Senate also formed committees to review 4-RIDE, the University Police escort service, and SA election reform.

The Senate voted almost unanimously against any future Gelman Library initiative to restrict student printing from all computer labs and stations in the building. The SA could not provide the actual vote count.

According to the legislation, a fee “unfairly discriminates against financially disadvantaged students who cannot necessarily afford computers and printers of their own.”

The bill only addresses printers managed by Gelman, excluding labs in the library’s basement, the Academic Center and Marvin Center, which are managed by the Center for Academic Technology.

University Librarian Jack Siggins said the resolution unfairly “muddies the water” because it condemned fees before negotiating with University officials.

“As of now, there is no policy or cap on printing privileges for students,” Siggins said.

Faculty and student committees met two years ago to address the growing use of printer paper with the increased popularity of Prometheus and other internet research tools. Siggins said the group discussed the problem and agreed to “correct the situation,” but GW has taken no action to impose a fee or reduce paper use.

He said every academic university near to or greater than GW in size faces similar concerns.

The State University of New York-Geneseo has a program that GW is examining that caps student paper use to about 250 sheets a semester. Students pay for sheets the exceed the caps.

Siggins added that GW Law School students are charged for every page they print in Burns Library. The system at the Law School is similar to Gelman’s charge when printing microfilm documents.

“The problem is the lack of the responsibility of the students themselves, generating a lot of waste,” Siggins said. “The users of the free printer service have been for some time taking advantage of a free service which has produced a lot of waste of paper, toners and the machines themselves.”

Many SA senators said they recognize the administration’s concerns but do not want to see students pay more fees. Others, like SA Sen. Maureen Benitz (G-CCAS), said negotiations would create a suitable outcome.

“Fundamentally, I agree with the bill but wish we could have gone about it another way,” Benitz said.

The SA also hopes to address another student life issue: the efficiency and reliability of 4-RIDE, which provides transportation for students.

Since the 1999-2000 academic year, there was a 60 percent increase in 4-RIDE requests for transportation, totaling 49,950 rides last year, according to Stafford’s e-mail. The senate bill states that the SA committee will examine the service routes and operations of 4-RIDE to investigate better, more reliable service and faster response times.

“First, we need to identify problems before we recommend anything to 4-RIDE,” Sen. Eric Daleo (U-CCAS) said. “The committee hopes to gather empirical evidence through surveys, walking the transportation routes and taking part in ride-a-longs.”

UPD Director Dolores Stafford wrote in an e-mail that 4-RIDE operations and service have been examined each semester since the creation of the service in 1994. Stafford said she also uses student comments to assess efficiency and service.

“One of the things I use to gauge student opinion is complaints,” Stafford wrote. “We have received less complaints this semester (zero) about
response time than ever before.”

She said she believes the decline in complaints is due to an extra $100,000 UPD put into 4-RIDE in July, when the shuttle service added four drivers and four vehicles.

Other legislation that made it to the SA table created an ad hoc committee to reform campaigning during student elections.

“It is a common sentiment among senators that the election documents of the government are ineffective and elections have gotten out of control,” said sophomore Sen. Fiona Conroy (U-CCAS), who wrote the bill. “It is necessary to cut out the loopholes in the system.”

Other senators said it is difficult to campaign for their SA positions while taking classes. They complained about missing classes and restrictions on campaign handouts.

The committee is set to analyze everything from limiting campaign poster space to the amount of time students are putting into their campaigns, Conroy said.

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