On April 19, 2016, the first meeting took place for the Open Education and Advocacy committee. This meeting is comprised of fourteen faculty and students, including members of Access Services, advising faculty and organizational leadership all the way to Mary Garguile, the Vice President of Instruction. This committee strives to help students get some much needed relief from the exorbitant price of textbooks. By passing a course material savings policy, Title Three grants would be made available to the school for use. This is made possible by completing goals in favor of giving students better access to the course materials that they need. The committee, headed by Erica Coe, Dean of the Library and Learning Research, is trying to ensure that students are given every opportunity to succeed.
All of the members of this committee believe that giving students cheaper course materials is a cause worth fighting for. Flint Thornton, Director of the OC Bookstore, has been crunching the numbers to find ways to make more materials more widely available to students: “We’re one of few independent bookstores who are not for profit,” Thornton said, speaking of one of many ways OC has decreased the price of text books already. One goal which has been accomplished ahead of schedule is to have 30 courses at the school with materials costing less than $55. Olympic College has surpassed this goal by having over 150. Also, the bookstore allows students to rent books rather than purchase them, which is an opportunity many students do not have at other colleges. With 36% of all book transactions being rentals, on average students save over $700,000. While this is a good start, the committee wants to raise the bar.
The committee is aiming to aid professors in obtaining open-source material that will be nearly free to students. An important strategy in reaching this goal will be getting resources that do not have all of the “bells and whistles” that some textbook producers package together. An overwhelming majority of the time, students do not need and will not use these extra materials, and are essentially wasting their money. By encouraging faculty to choose textbooks that are cheaper for students, there is the potential to bring more money to the school.
This committee will meet twice in May and once in June for the upcoming forecast. This movement will need more than just faculty to be involved. Students need to be and should be at the forefront of this endeavor. Currently Pierce College is a leader for this movement and students led the charge for their own financial well-being there. We at The Olympian encourage all students to show support for this cause and show the administration that we deserve these changes.
For more information on these meetings and how to lend support please contact us at Olyeditor@olympic.edu. If we all work together, there can be more affordable books for everyone.