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Volume 72, Issue 17, Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Opinion

Proposal helps book problems

Ashley Hess
Guest Columnist 

In the Friday issue of The Daily Cougar, John Michael Haines wrote the article "Site offers book savings," which is about a Web site that allows the buying and selling of textbooks by students for free. The article cites ways students can save money, but more can be done about the textbook situation on campus. 

At the beginning of every semester the story is the same: college students are out of cash. Students pay an average of $900 per year on textbooks -- 20 percent of college tuition at an average university, which makes these purchases a financial burden for students. 

Bundling unnecessary CD-ROMs and upgrades with new editions contributes to the high cost of textbooks. While some textbook issues must be dealt with on a state or national scale, others can be fixed right here at the University of Houston. 

The problem UH has is getting the faculty and administration to cooperate. Professors are supposed to abide by a two-week rule, which states they must submit their course's book list to the University at least two weeks before the start of the semester. The rule is not enforced and not followed by professors. 

When students know what books they are using for the class ahead of time, they are able to search for used textbooks using Web sites such as starvingscholars.com or campusbookswap.com. When book lists are submitted at the last minute, students are forced to buy textbooks at bookstores with higher prices to help keep up with the course. 

Textbooks created for a specific course in a semester also cause problems. Although these textbooks cover detailed course information, they are still expensive and cannot be resold. 

The Student Government Association has had numerous discussions on the textbook issue and is working on a proposition that they hope will take effect by Fall 2007. However, they concentrate only on making the "two-week turn-in" rule a campus law. 

The Senate could do more with this newly proposed legislation. It should consider rules that force faculty to keep the same edition for a minimum of three years to ensure used books can be bought and sold at our college bookstore. The Senatecould also encourage faculty to consider books that are available to students online. 

Other universities around the country have begun making textbooks available online. Students must pay a small licensing fee for the online version, but the book can also be purchased in textbook form. The University could also promote a variety of forums to trade or rent used books. This action would be an ideal solution for students who cannot afford the high costs of textbooks. 

The Make Textbooks Affordable Campaign lists a number of schools from across the nation that have passed student government resolutions supporting affordable textbooks. If other universities are able to pass legislation on making textbooks affordable, then UH needs to follow suit by passing the textbook bill presented to it by the SGA.

Hess, a guest columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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