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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Books burden students’ backs and budgets

Dear (insert course listing),

Is it necessary to “”require”” a $200 brand-new book for your general education course?

Did you know the only difference between the seventh and eighth editions of this textbook you require is an updated picture of Lady Gaga on Page 403 in reference to eccentricity?

As it so happens, I have found a similar book at Bookmans, and I actually understand its portrayal of the concepts more than the assigned text for the course. Have you considered this text? It is also less than half the cost.

Yours truly,

Financially floundering student

Let’s talk about textbooks. They make up a significant portion of students’ expenditures in their pursuit of higher education. That is not to say they are the most costly portion but significant and substantial in their own right. It is important that students begin to discuss what they can do to help bring down the cost of their education, even slightly. Textbooks are a phenomenal target to examine.

Textbooks are chosen by professors, for the most part, save for the few instances when departments choose for instructors, as most of the foreign language departments do. Since the overwhelming majority of textbooks are chosen by professors, those instructors carry a great weight in deciding students’ financial burdens.

It’s important to clarify that I argue for neither any form of constraint on academic freedom nor the availability of the latest and greatest knowledge in certain fields. In some areas of study, it is essential to be working with the most up-to-date textbook possible due to breakthroughs and a range of other possibilities. However, in the majority of fields, it is absolutely feasible to choose a text that may have pictures from, dare I say it, 2006 or earlier. The content remains, but the price is lower.

Moreover, textbooks are difficult to budget for. Students are completely in the dark in terms of what kinds of books will be chosen for a particular course until professors submit their booklists to the UofA Bookstore.

The bookstore itself seems to have a negative stigma or resentment from students for no legitimate reason. This establishment goes above and beyond for students. It offers three different avenues for obtaining texts: purchasing new or used; a rental partnership with one of the largest rental companies, Chegg.com; and now, eBooks. The bookstore is at the forefront of the industry and is attempting to cater to students’ diverse learning styles and financial situations.

The biggest issue students have with the bookstore is predominantly the “”buyback”” operations that occur at the end of each semester. Students feel they do not receive enough money back for their textbooks, especially in light of how much they paid for them mere months earlier.

This ties into professors’ role in textbook selections, due to the fact that an abysmally low percentage of professors submit their textbook purchase orders to the bookstore on time. This forces the bookstore to purchase at higher rates last minute and thus necessarily push the newly incurred cost onto students.

I don’t say this to criminalize professors. But professors have the responsibility to be cognizant of the fact that they hold a great deal of weight in determining students’ cost of attendance.

Therefore, we, the students, ask professors to submit your booklists in to the UofA Bookstore by the designated due date. Professors can also ease students’ financial burden by vowing to use the same title for consecutive academic years whenever the circumstances permit, allowing that textbook to be entered into the textbook rental program. Both of these actions are feasible and achievable. Awareness and effort are all we, the students, ask.

— Tyler Quillin is a senior majoring in philosophy and English. He is also the academic affairs executive director for the Associated Students of the University of Arizona. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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