By Elianna Novitch
The University of Iowa Student Government passed a resolution on Tuesday that proposed to work with Information Technology Services to establish equitable and sustainable printing for every student on campus.
The ITS has shown a commitment to sustainable practices and has taken steps to reduce excessive printing on campus. One example of this is the installation of an automatic double-sided print setting when students go to print numerous pages.
“The university is very committed to sustainability, as you can see from our commitment of going coal-free by 2025, and we are on track to meet our 2020 sustainability goals,” said UISG Sen. Noel Mills. “It is obviously a top priority for the university, and so we think that sustainability in the area of printing should be, too.”
Mills also highlighted that sustainability is a big part of the BLOC party platform.
“We think it is really important to advocate for sustainability, and we wanted that to be on the forefront of campus conversation,” UISG Vice President Lauren Freeman said. “We know that we can make a big impact by changing policies whether its energy efficiency or waste reduction.”
According to the resolution document, SSR28, currently each black and white page printed costs students 5 cents, even though the actual supply and service cost per print is 3 cents. Under this printing model, every student at the UI not in the College of Engineering receives $10 of free printing money.
The free $10 is subsidized by the students who go over $10 and proceed to pay for any additional printing out of pocket. Engineering students pay $25 in printing fees each semester even if they do not use up to $25 worth of paper and ink.
Resolution SSR28 stated that producing paper takes twice the energy used to produce plastic bags and that 42-percent of global wood harvest is used to make paper. It also stated that the demand for paper is expected to double before 2030.
Mills and UISG Sen. Marcus Smith said externalizing the cost of printing provides no economic responsibility for the environmental harm caused by it and that it financially burdens students who must print more than others because of their major.
“It is unfair for students whose majors require them to print more to have to float the bill for others,” Smith said.
With the passing of the resolution, UISG voiced its support of the ITS plan to charge all students only the actual supply and service costs of providing prints, instead of charging extra and providing $10 that is subsidized by students who print more than $10.
UISG also voiced its support of keeping the automatic duplex setting for all printers across campus.
The resolution will be sent to Chris Clark of ITS, Danny Tang of the Engineering Technology Center, Interim Director of the Office of Sustainability Sara Maples, and Interim Provost Sue Curry.
“I think we should have to pay for our environmental footprint,” Mills said. “We shouldn’t just be able to get away with wasting all this paper [on printing] and not be held accountable. To be sustainable, we need to be accountable.”