Following Editor in Chief Daisy Scott’s recent article “Buried in Text(books),” three members of CALPIRG sent in responses and calls to action
Letter To Editor
Paint a picture. You just got into a place of your dreams. But to get in, you have to pay $4,000. You think it’s over but then you have to pay $200-250 every few months on top of the $4,000. College textbooks have increased in prices 812% since 1980. That is 4x faster than the rate of inflation. Over 2x the rate of college semesters and quarters.
In my time, I have had to use four access codes since community college. One class even had an access code listed in their course materials, I bought it, then when I got to the class, they said I didn’t need it at all. Access codes aren’t bought back, so it was all for nothing. Why should someone pay $50 just to get their homework done? The teachers want the homework, why do students pay for it?
Online PDFs will always be replaced with a new more expensive version that literally just changed a few problems and words, claiming to be improved. Which is why we need to move to open textbooks as mentioned in Daisy Scott’s article “Buried in (Text)Books.” I’m an intern with the student organization CALPIRG. We work to get faculty to agree to online textbooks. They are faculty-written, peer-reviewed, and open-licence textbooks that can be published online. They are free to read and cheap to print. Best thing is students can keep them after their classes.
The California community colleges have done a good job implementing these textbooks. It is time for the UC’s to follow the same path.
UC San Diego Warren College
San Diego, CA
Letter to the Editor
To the Editor of The Guardian,
Almost every time at the beginning of the quarter, I often see fellow students post on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat complaining about how much they had to spend on textbooks for the term. Despite hearing and seeing first-hand the struggles of spending so much on textbooks, that did not stop the increases on the prices of textbooks and the new strategies for companies to create access-only homework and textbooks. However, as textbook prices are increasing and as companies start using access-only strategies, students would opt to find cheaper or free versions, or even to opt out completely.
As a student from a financially disadvantaged background, I would often find myself selecting only a few required materials to buy and rent used if applicable. Though because only a few select pages of the textbook are assigned throughout the course, I eventually end up feeling like I wasted my money that I could have used for more necessary needs such as food.
Upon reading Daisy Scott’s article called Buried in (Text)Books, I ended up relating and agreeing to much of what she says, especially on her solution to the issue. She says that if “professors are able to pay for the reproduction rights to create print course readers with excerpts of readings, they should be able to place that same content online.” The idea of online content would be faster for students to access, eliminate the burden of carrying textbooks around campus, and thus benefiting the professors because of the higher probability that students will have such access to enrich their understanding of the course.
As a member of the CALPIRG chapter at UCSD, we took Scott’s solution a step further by introducing a new alternative: open source textbooks. Professors will also be granted money in order to write textbooks that can contribute to the open source. We already have access to online databases, let’s take a step further for free access to textbooks.
3rd Year Transfer
Letter to the Editor
I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation until I found myself skipping meals on the day-to-day. Balancing classes, extracurriculars, and a job in attempt to gain experience for internships and better-paying work, I found myself sacrificing a few meals here and there to alleviate the growing financial burden of my education. My total expenditure during my first two semesters at UCSD was roughly over $300 for textbooks and homework alone- not including tuition, housing, meal plan, amenities, living conditions such as laundry, and transportation.
The fact is, I could only afford to purchase one textbook, the rest were assignments I had no other option but to purchase with the fear of taking monumental dips in my grades for classes that required them. Assignments cost around $55 per class with textbooks ranging from about $200-400. An estimated $600 would be spent by an individual per year on textbooks and homework assignments combined. However, no student should be subjecting themselves to 1 meal a day just to afford educational resources.
Textbooks written under an open license or funded by grants from the UC system would generate better performance from students, and create equal opportunity for those who have already worked hard to gain admittance to a competitive UC school. Following the example of schools like Salem State University or UMass Amherst with free textbooks, would aid in the financial struggle countless UC students undergo costing them more than a dip in their grades.
As a member of CALPIRG, a non-profit organization working to further the voice of students on large issues, I wish to broaden the representation of students struggling with the finances of our education starting with affordable textbooks and assignments. Through our campaign to get the UC system to start a grant for free and affordable textbooks, the financial and academic future of leading generations will gear towards prosperity.
UC San Diego Earl Warren College
San Diego Resident
Graphic by Geena L. Roberts.