NSIT's new printing policy, which will be implemented in the next few days and will charge students six cents per page, is a fair and responsible way of controlling the costs incurred by printing. Many arguments against this policy are shortsighted and, in some cases, selfish.
Individual students have different needs. Some use the bus more often than others to travel around campus, while some consume just a little bit more than others at the all-you-can-eat dining halls Pierce and Burton-Judson. And some students, for whatever reason, find it necessary to print tens of thousands of pages, using the University's printers, over the course of a quarter.
Responding to these different needs is the University's responsibility. There is a difference between taking the bus to the lake and back or eating twice the amount of the person next to you, and printing every chapter and article referenced on a syllabus for a reading-intensive course. Once the University has purchased a bus, as is necessary, the cost of moving one or ten students from point A to point B is identical. All-you-can-eat dining locations take into account that many patrons may each more than others, and adjust the price accordingly.
On the other hand, the University takes a direct and substantial loss when a significant number of students choose to print out the equivalent of every issue of The New York Times between July 9, 1941 and April 21, 1997. The University should not foot the bill for printing (just as they shouldn't for books), so under a system in which students don't pay individually by the page, the University is forced to distribute the cost evenly as part of tuition. This arrangement undeservedly penalizes students who print moderate or little amounts.
NSIT's new printing policy will align cost and utility more equitably, and it will also force students to reevaluate just how much every printed page is worth to them. This will speed up the line at printers all over campus and will save more than a few trees.
Good thinking NSIT. Now, let's start making sure that e-mail doesn't go down.