September 19, 2005

Students Call for Double-Sided Printing on Campus

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The era of double-sided printing has arrived. Duplex printing is a technological feat that may pale in comparison at a university that boasts of a particle accelerator and the Mars Rover, but prior to July of this year, double-sided printing was never an option at most of the printing facilities located around the Cornell campus.

The lack of duplex printing options frustrated John Simeone ’07, president of the Society for Natural Resource Conservation (SNRC), a student group “dedicated to protecting and preserving the natural world all around us.” He noticed that double-sided printing was only available through NetPrint, the laser printing service offered through Cornell Information Technologies, at the Management Library of the Johnson Business School and the Engineering Library.

These limited options “[were] an issue that became obvious for any student at Cornell,” Simeone said. “It [was] an outrage that students [couldn’t] find many libraries that would offer double-sided printing.”

From a conservation perspective, the lack of duplex printing options also meant that more paper was being used for each printing job.

“According to the SNRC, this was plain unacceptable,” Simeone said.

Beginning in the fall of 2004, the progress towards a duplex-enabled campus became the official campaign of the SNRC, and much of the fall semester was spent in researching the feasibility of implementing printers capable of printing double-sided copies in libraries and computer labs and identifying the key players at Cornell who could make this happen. Last spring, a Duplex Printing Working Group was formed which included: Rick Cochran, programming and analyst specialist for NetPrint, CIT Systems and Operations; Michael Cook, Mann Library coordinator of public access and computing; Janet McCue, director of Mann Library; and SNRC members Danielle Wedrall ’07 and Maisie Wright ’06.

“Janet and Michael Cook and Mann Library have been incredibly forward and helpful in their willingness to help SNRC,” Simeone said. “Since last spring, we have been making progress as group.” At their first meeting last spring, Simeone and the administrators acknowledged that many people throughout the years had wanted double-sided printing but that “the administration and students [needed] to push, no one pushed. There was a lot of talk, but no action,” Simeone said. “There was a lack of integration between students, faculty on these issues.”

Simeone said, however, that there had always been a general consensus that “Cornell needed to do this to keep up.”

Since their first meeting, the Working Group found that it was not easy to implement duplex-capable machines. Simeone said that there were problems with NetPrint, the printing program designed by CIT specifically for Cornell.

“It was designed a while ago, and there were [a few] bugs and issues with it, and keeping it up to date made it difficult to duplex,” Simeone said.

The group has made significant progress, however. There are now 27 duplex-capable printers located at various locations around campus, including Mann, Olin and Uris libraries, as well as the Robert Purcell and Noyes Community Centers. Additionally, Simeone said that every printer purchased by CIT from now on will be duplex-capable.

While that still means that more than half of the Cornell campus is not using duplex printers, “a year ago [duplex] wasn’t here,” McCue said. “This has been a neat collaboration between students, CIT and heads of [departments] working together.”

“This is a first step in the right direction,” Cochran said. Cochran also mentioned that this is not the first initiative that has been undertaken by CIT to enforce conservation.

“We’ve computed how many trees we save a year by charging for printing, around 3800,” he said.

He also said that there have not been many complaints from users about the cost of printing, while adding that rates went down from 10 cents to nine cents this year.

Cook also said that “pre-duplex era, the number one complaint was specifically that double-sided printing was not available. The SNRC students get enormous credit for getting [the Working Group] started.”

Simeone acknowledged that “just because duplex is now offered, doesn’t mean that students will be using it.” Since duplex printers were implemented in July, there have been 79,666 simplex jobs, but only 6,105 duplex jobs. SNRC’s next goal will be to get the word out to students and all other users to take advantage of the double-sided printing option. He said that SNRC is working to put up signs next to printers in various libraries and labs to advertise the new duplex option, and that CIT Publications is working on desktop backdrops on CIT computers that will similarly advertise the duplex capabilities of on-campus printers.

But getting people to switch from single-sided printing will not be an easy task.

“This is not just a technological issue,” Simeone said. “It’s more of a community issue, in terms of habits and norms.” He said that professors in many of the classes he’s attended pass out syllabi that are single-side and that many only want to receive papers that have been printed on one side.

For example, Jackie Levin ’07 said that she feels “single sided printing is for formal occasions.”

“It’s assumed that you wouldn’t hand in a paper that is double-sided. It looks informal. But double-sided printing is useful for documents that I’m not handing in,” she said.

Wright also said that “if professors accept [duplex printed] assignments, they don’t advertise it.”

But these challenges will not deter SNRC from pushing for every printer in all facilities to become duplex-capable and from informing people that double-sided printing is one simple, but significant, way to benefit the environment.

Archived article by Samira Chandwani
Sun Staff Writer