Professors Groan Over Class Reader Embargo

    A bevy of students and professors are complaining about inconveniences, caused by the enforcement of an old campus policy that bars vendors such as University Readers and Postal Plus from selling class readers and course packets on campus.

    Political science professor Ellen Comisso called the policy a “great burden” because it requires students to make special arrangements to pick up their readers from off-campus sites.

    “It means it is more difficult for them to do the assignments, and that certainly affects the instructor’s ability to conduct the class,” she stated in an e-mail.

    Students ordering readers online have caused a campuswide backlog of student mail delivery due to the influx of thousands of course packets and readers.

    Several students have complained of receiving packages a week later than expected and were unable to complete assignments in time for class, according to Haley Kim, a worker at the parcel center in John Muir College.

    However, none of the problems have stopped professors from using outside vendors. A.S. Commissioner of Enterprise Operations Angela Chen said that no professors have switched their orders to the on-campus A.S. Soft Reserves this quarter, despite the enforcement of campus policy.

    University Readers itself is selling readers for more than a hundred upper- and lower-division courses this quarter.

    The A.S. Council ordered an investigation of off-campus vendors at the end of last year, when there were complaints of unsafe practices, according to Revelle College Council Senior Senator Rachel Corell.

    “[They were] selling out of their trunks, leading students to parking lots [and] selling at night in remote locations,” she said.

    According to Corell, the vendors never contacted UCSD for permission to sell products on campus.

    The absence of permission violated campus policy, which requires the university to enter into an agreement with vendors in order for them to solicit sales, Corell said.

    “There was no way to identify a seller as legit,” she said.

    There was no official way to determine if the sellers sold correct readers or for the correct prices, Corell said.

    Although A.S. Soft Reserves sales revenues have remained largely the same this quarter, professors should consider using the service to benefit the campus, according to Chen.

    “A.S. Soft Reserves observes all cash handling and copyright laws and is the only enterprise on campus that gives the money it makes from the readers back to the students,” she stated in an e-mail.

    Chen also said that students could only be spared from off-campus transportation problems and mail jams if professors use A.S. Soft Reserves.

    Nevertheless, Comisso said that she found A.S. Soft Reserves “quite unsatisfactory” the one time she used it. Other professors declined comment on the issue.

    “For those of us who revise and put together our course packets over breaks and vacations, Soft Reserves requires an extremely long lead time,” she stated.

    Since students are not around during the breaks, professors would either have to have course material ready one quarter ahead of time, or else wait until the third week of winter quarter for students to start doing the reading, she said.

    “[With Postal Plus], even when I can’t get it in until the Thursday before class begins, it’s ready on Monday,” Comisso stated.

    Comisso also questioned the A.S. Council’s interests in enforcing the campus policy.

    “They know Soft Reserves is ‘legitimate,’” she stated. “Come on, does this mean they know competitors are not legitimate? If they don’t, why not even the playing field [and] let the buyers choose?”

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