February 12, 2008

Printing error

Exploiting the MacLab’s free printing for user-created documents is just one of the skills that a U of C education provides. There is something of a ritual to it: MacLab tutors periodically impose new restrictions, and wily U of C students find new ways to disguise a 60-page PDF as a Hum paper.

College Council (C.C.) is currently attempting to make campus printing cheaper (read: subsidized) for students to use. While the C.C. is right to desire a streamlined printing system, the MacLab offers a compelling argument against subsidized printing.

The Computer Science Department attracts students to its MacLab with free-printing privileges, but it serves simply to subsidize the printing of some at the cost of many. Some students inevitably print more than others, yet an equal part of everyone’s tuition goes to funding the MacLab. This policy is unfair and makes little sense; individual students should bear the cost of their own printing. Ending the MacLab’s free printing is a necessary cost if the campus is to have a fair, unified, and simple printing system.

C.C. should be commended for trying to simplify what is currently an unnecessarily convoluted system. The Library system, Housing, NSIT, and the Computer Science Department each employs its own printing system. Every different system has its own payment method and price, leaving U of C students scratching their heads and wondering why they can’t print at the Reg with money they just inadvertently put in their Housing printing account. Pricing provokes further frustration because the printing cost ranges from 8 cents in housing to 10 cents at the libraries. For the sake of user-friendliness and efficiency, the disparate systems should be unified, creating a single printing system for the whole campus.

C.C. is correct to desire a simpler, easier printing system for the campus. There seems to be little rhyme or reason to the current multi-faceted system. Artificially cheap printing, however, should be avoided. Our tuition should not be used to subsidize printing; such a system leads to abuse, as some students benefit far more from others. It makes much more sense for individual students to pay the full cost of their printing, with a constant price across campus. Sorry, MacLab users, it’s time to pay up.

The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.