Printing at Cornell will undergo significant changes including free printing allocations and reduced costs that will be implemented next fall, the Student Assembly announced on Friday.
Jaewon Sim ’21, vice president of internal relations on the S.A., spearheaded the effort to reform the printing system at Cornell. Sim and Elisabeth Crotty ’20 co-chaired a task force on Net-Print system reform in February 2018, tasked with investigating the printing system at Cornell.
The biggest changes to the system will be free printing allocations for all students, reduced printing costs and the centralization of all printers on campus under Cornell Information Technologies.
The exact allocated value of free printing and the new prices will be announced in March according to the S.A.’s statement.
While there is no wide-scale free printing at Cornell available to all students, limited free printing is offered in some buildings such as the Office of Diversity and Academic Initiatives, the Student Development Diversity Initiatives building and in the Asian American Studies Resource Center.
Sim announced his intent to update the system during his campaign for S.A. freshman representative in fall 2017, although he acknowledged other S.A. members and candidates have had the same idea.
The changes seek to increase the accessibility of printing at Cornell, in terms of both cost and location.
The ad-hoc committee was created after a fall 2017 S.A. survey was conducted to gauge students’ thoughts regarding the current printing system.
The current cost of printing at Cornell is $0.09 per page for black-and-white printing and $0.25 per page for color printing. The survey found that four of the eight Ivy League schools offer free printing credits, while five Ivies charge less than Cornell for printing a double-sided, black and white document.
Additionally — since there is no reduced price for double-sided printing — Cornell is the most expensive among the elite schools that do not offer free printing credits to print one double-sided page, cashing in at $0.18 per sheet.
The report also found that 94 percent of Cornell students believe that printing is expensive and that most students would not purchase their own printer if printing was more accessible and cheaper.
According to Sim, the process of revamping the system was very long because of the decentralized nature of printing at Cornell. Although printers are run under one Net-Print system, they are not all administered by one centralized body, with each of the colleges and schools organizing and managing their own printers independently.
“For example, if you went to print at Goldwin Smith, those printers would be owned by Arts and Sciences, not CIT, as opposed to what people think,” he said.
The decentralized nature of the printing system has resulted in increased operating costs for smaller schools and departments, often making the task of lowering the price of printing cost-prohibitive, Sim argued.
Case in point: one college previously lowered the cost of printing for their printers, but it created an unsustainable increase in usage for those specific printers, Sim said. As a result, changes in printing price have to be coordinated between the different I.T. departments.
“A lot of people went to go print at the printer because that was way cheaper than all the other printers around the campus,” Sim said. “That was a huge issue for them because, as I mentioned, they had to use their own personnel to refill the paper.”
“Basically they were losing money and their personnel was going crazy refilling the paper and the toner, and the printers were breaking down,” he continued.
The new printing system will now be centrally run by CIT instead of individual printers managed by different departments. This will allow for printing prices to be reduced because of what Sim termed “economies of scale,” which would reduce the burden of maintenance and repair costs on smaller departments.
However, since the current printers being used at Cornell cannot be centralized, new printers will have to be purchased to accommodate the change. According to Sim, the back-end network for the printers is different than the front end system Net-Print users see. In order to centralize the departments and reduce the costs, new printers and a new system will need to be used.
There are currently over 180 net-print printers on campus.
What the university will do with the old printers is up to what will be put in the CIT charter for the printing system changes, according to Sim. He said he wants to find a “sustainable way” to dispose of the old printers if necessary.
“But also if repurposing is possible, we are going to aim to repurpose them as much as possible so they don’t actually go to waste,” Sim said. “Those were actually some of the concerns we brought up because it would be very irresponsible from the university side of things to just throw them away because we don’t need them, we wouldn’t want to do that.”
Additionally, as a result of this process, Sim introduced a resolution to the S.A. on Thursday to create a permanent I.T. committee. The main purpose of the resolution is to keep the relationships the task force has made with I.T. officials at Cornell and create a centralized source for I.T. related problems and questions to be addressed.
The new printers will be implemented on a rolling basis according to Sim beginning this summer. The completion date of the project is to be determined.