For Susannah Burrage '11, the printers at Bowdoin are like the vending machine that takes one's money, but gives nothing in return. On September 26, Burrage printed a document from a library computer, and after swiping and confirming her print order, she waited. Five minutes later, no documents had come, but in terms of her $60 allocation for printing, it was as if they had.
At the beginning of this semester, the Bowdoin Printing Group (BPG) implemented a new policy allocating each student $60 worth of printing—750 double-sided black-and-white pages —in place of unlimited access to free printing. The new system, aimed at reducing paper waste, has the downside of charging students for lost or duplicate print jobs.
"It's happened more than once...a lot of times when you send a job...to the printer, you'll swipe it and then it just won't come out," said Burrage.
"In the past it's [been] annoying but it [has not been] a problem because you're not getting charged and you just print it again. But now that you're getting charged and you're printing like 30 page documents that cost two dollars, it's really frustrating," she said.
In response to the printing failures experienced by Burrage and other students, the BPG has decided to alter its policy.
Co-chair of the BPG and Deputy Chief Information Officer Rebecca Sandlin revealed, "Moving forward, to ensure that students have an opportunity to learn more about lost [or] duplicate printing before they have exhausted their allocation, beginning Friday, October 1st, each student will be entitled to one refund for charges relating to lost/duplicate printing."
"Refunds will be processed by the OneCard office, which handles inquiries regarding allocation use and OneCard charges under the new printing policy," she added.
The BPG has also developed specific policies based on the nature of one's printing issue.
"If the student is asking for a refund because of a lost/duplicate print job, those are not refunded [other than the one refund allocated to each student]," said Sandlin.
"The most important things to know about printing to prevent lost/duplicate charges: In Hawthorne-Longfellow and Hatch Libraries, when you send a document to the printer, it goes to the printer which has the shortest queue and avoids printers that are broken. When you release a print job, the screen tells you which printer your document will print to," said Sandlin.
"If the printer is not broken and just needs routine attention such as more paper, toner or removing a paper jam, then your document will print out as soon as this has been attended to. [Also] if the print job did not print because of technical problems, the student's account will be refunded by the OneCard office," she added.
The process by which refunds are given to students who experience technical problems is a complex one.
"I talked to one of the librarians at the library...he told me that he would look into it and get back to me," said Burrage. "The response that he got back from IT...said you will not get reimbursed for the allotment of money that you get at the beginning of the year but if you add your own money then you'll get reimbursed, which seems a little backwards to me because its still real money no matter how you look at it."
Yet Burrage's concern does not lie with the removal of free printing, but rather the efficiency of the system.
"I don't necessarily have an issue with being charged for printing, like if it was in a book I would buy the book and that would be the end of the day," she said. "The issue is I don't think you can charge people for a service that they can't depend on," said Burrage.