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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

On Printing, Sustainability, and Poor Governance: A Reply to the CSA President

<e we are, three weeks into the school year, and the printing quota continues to rear its ugly head.  Students eagerly share tips about printers that might not have PaperCut installed and complain even more than usual about their reading load.  What does this mean to me?  Simply, the quota needs to go.

President McClellan tells us that the printing quota is supposed to save on toner, not just paper.  This is a position that I, in principle, agree with.  We should certainly do whatever we can to take a bit of the burden off the environment, but is this really the best way?  Putting in literally five seconds of thought, I can think of four strategies that would be easier to implement, less frustrating for students, and probably more effective: turning off the lights at night in the LDC, getting rid of paper products at Sayles, putting room draw online, and bringing kegs back to Rotblatt.  Unlike the printing quota, which goes out of its way to make certain students’ lives harder, all four of those changes would be very simple, and if they affected our lives at all, it would be in a positive way.

Last week’s ‘Tonian told me that the CSA passed a resolution condemning the Minnesota ballot measures on gay marriage and voter ID.  Thanks for contributing to the Carleton liberal echo chamber and not actually doing anything to improve my life here on campus.  I refuse to buy that students will decide not to come to Carleton because they might not be able to vote in Minnesota, but I certainly buy that having a printing quota (after not having one) will discourage applicants.  Not only does no one outside of the Carleton campus care at all what the CSA has to say about gay marriage, the CSA has real issues to deal with on campus, not just limited to the printing quota.  Maybe instead of thinking deeply about random statewide political issues, the CSA could actually think about the campus policies they are approving, as opposed to just being blinded by the word “sustainability.”

On Monday, students received an email from Austin Robinson-Coolidge of ITS, telling us that there will be a one time only $4 quota increase.  This was good news, since hundreds of Carleton students will now be saved from extra charges.  However, this doesn’t do anything to change the fact that, on day one of winter term, we’ll be right back where we started, with a stupid, pointless quota.  Thanks for the thought, though.  I’m sure spending four fewer dollars on printing will make everyone sleep easily.

I wouldn’t be nearly as mad at the printing quota if Carleton—the administration, the faculty, and the CSA—had actually done anything to warn students that the quota was coming and summarily prepare for it with the promised “discounted printing package [sold] as a ‘textbook’.”  That, however, clearly hasn’t happened and here I am, sitting on under fifteen dollars left in printing, due almost entirely to the demands of one class.  This style of governance, which is sadly common at Carleton, results in policies that are implemented without any regard for the actual effect they’ll have on the student body. 

Once again, I call for a public meeting of students, faculty, and staff to have an intelligent and meaningful debate about this important campus issue, not some survey that will get ignored by most of the campus.  At the end of his Viewpoint, President McClellan asked students to tell him how they feel about the quota.  Well, Michael, we’re telling you—it’s horrible and it needs to be fixed.

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