Every day around 1:15 p.m., students huddle around campus printers, rushing to print out last-minute documents on their way to their afternoon classes. For those left out of the traffic jam, you might want to take note of the latest memo on the printers left by the Information and Technology Services (ITS).
According to Larry Montagna, Associate Director for Classroom Technology and Lab Support, the rates for black and white printing will increase from 3 cents to 6 cents effective this coming June, and color printing will decrease from 50 cents to 30 cents.
In the past few years, other universities have already taken a leap to raise printing rates. USF, on the other hand, has postponed raising rates, basically to help students out. But the university no longer has a choice. “[We’re] at the point now where the cost for the supplies is now outweighing the revenue that we’re getting,” Montagna said, “So we really had no choice. It’s not that we’re trying to make a profit, we’re trying not to lose money.”
Graduate student Jannea Tschirch said, “Personally I don’t have a printer at home, so I rely on the school printer.” Tschirch admitted that 6 cents isn’t nearly as bad as the 15 cents that the San Francisco Public Library charges for printing, yet the change in pricing is “kind of a mean way to gouge students,” she said. “Having to pay [over] a dollar for a 20-page paper is really ridiculous.”
Though the 100-percent increase sounds steep, USF would have increased to this price even if they had been doing it gradually. If increases had been spread out over time in small increments, it ultimately would still be at six cents in June. “We would’ve been going from three to four, four to five. The reason that it’s doubling is just because it’s been so long,” he said.
In his six years at USF, Montagna said this is the first price increase he’s seen.
The price changes were first announced the first week back from Spring Break, when an upgrade in the Go Print software failed to initiate on March 22. Go Print is the electronic system that withdraws funds from students’ one card when they print out documents.
“People’s OneCards weren’t functioning whatsoever and we didn’t want to turn off the printing,” Montagna said. Instead, students were allowed to use the black and white printing free of charge through any printer connected to Go Print. While USF could have posted “out of order” signs and resumed printing once the system was up and running, Montagna said ITS didn’t want to “inconvenience the students, so we just didn’t charge them for printing.”
While the malfunction was not intentional, Montagna said the university probably suffered a massive loss of supplies in paper, ink, and loss of revenue. “We haven’t done the math, but from what I understand students were leaving the lab practically holding reams of paper and we were hearing reports from the lab monitor that students were saying they were going to print out every assignment they had for the semester.”
“There’s no question the volume of printing [two weeks ago] wouldn’t have occurred had it not been free,” Montagna said.