Next fall, students will be introduced to a new, environmentally sound printing policy. The Bowdoin Printing Group (BPG), a committee composed of representatives from the library, Finance, and Information Technology (IT), recently approved a new measure that is expected to reduce paper waste by 20 to 40 percent.
Starting in the fall, students will be allotted $60 in printing funds per semester—the equivalent of 750 black-and-white double-sided pages. After the $60 is used, students will be charged five cents for every additional single-sided page and eight cents for every double-sided page. The allocation includes black-and-white copying and microform printing, but students will still be charged for color copying and printing.
The impetus for this policy change stemmed from BPG's long-standing concern that unregulated printing at the College causes excessive paper waste. Last year, the group purchased a Pharos printing system to centrally manage and track printing trends at Bowdoin. After synthesizing a semester's worth of printing data and consulting the printing policies of over 40 peer institutions, BPG found that the average Bowdoin student prints 906 pages per semester—a total of 1,604,545 pages campus-wide.
According to BPG's overview of the new plan, most peer schools use "allocation and then charge" plans to help minimize paper waste. Students are allotted a set number of pages per semester and are charged once they exceed that amount. Such plans substantially decrease paper waste, and the group projected that a 20 percent decrease in printing would save one ton of paper per year.
"The plan is going to revise the printing plan so it's cheaper and affordable for students, but a major part of it is to be environmentally friendly, to reduce wasteful printing," said Addison Boyland '10, a member of the Student Printing Advisory Committee (SPAC) that the BPG formed in fall 2009.
Not only will the plan decrease paper waste, but it will also offer a much-needed consolidation of library services, said Boyland. Boyland first thought to look into changing the College's printing system while working in the library over the summer.
"The plan combines microfiche, copying, and printing, and puts it all in one place so students don't have to pay out of their OneCard account to copy," he said.
The data collected from the Pharos system show that the 750-page allotment is sufficient to cover the printing demands of 82 percent of students.
"A lot of the excess printing is due to students not understanding how to allocate their printing...people are using personal accounts for club and department printing...so the plan is about making people more aware of the resources they have available," said Boyland.
The BPG, co-chaired by Deputy Chief Information Officer Rebecca Sandlin and Director of Finance & Campus Services Del Wilson, worked with the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG), the Committee on Governance and Faculty Affairs, IT, Facilities Management and the library to coordinate the organization and future implementation of the plan.
"There's nothing in the plan that will have a negative effect," said Boyland. "It's beneficial to the College as well as the students, so it's not something that should be controversial."