The Associated Students of the University of Arizona, UA’s student governance body, met Nov. 7 at the Eller College of Management to discuss the benefits of open access educational resources and to approve funding for a number of campus clubs.
Access to Educational Resources
Cheryl Cuillier, an associate librarian for open education at UA, discussed the benefits and the drawbacks of open-source, or freely available, educational resources during the Senate meeting.
Cuillier has been working with professors at UA, over the last couple of years, to decrease student textbook costs by creating free textbooks and other programs to cut necessary class costs.
Cuillier hoped ASUA could provide financial and institutional support to expand access to these less expensive avenues for obtaining textbooks and materials for students’ courses.
One way to access these materials according to Cuillier is through open textbook websites such as “Open Stacks” and “Open Textbook Library”.
The UA Library is working to expand its own stock of ebooks, or online textbooks, to cut costs for students.
“Unfortunately, there are some publishers that don’t let us buy their ebook,” Cuillier said.
UA has also been expanding its Exclusive Access program especially in the Eller College of Management, according to Cuillier.
This is where students automatically get enrolled for a free trial period of an online textbook in their course. When the trial expires the student is liable for the fee of access, but they are allowed to opt out before the trial deadline.
“In exchange for selling a lot more books [publishers] lower the prices, they estimate that savings are about 50% on average” Cuillier said.
Another program the UA recently started to help lessen the costs of textbooks for students involves professors who write their own textbooks.
Professors who write and require their own textbooks must donate some of the proceeds to student programs within the university.
“Through all of these initiatives we estimate that over the past 5 years we have saved about 5 million dollars of UA students”, Cuillier said.
While progress had been made, Cuillier emphasized that there are countless students struggling to pay for food and rent, let alone textbooks. According to Cuillier, professors and publishers need to hear this message.
“The inability to afford these books make students fall behind in their academics and could be the difference between passing and failing”, Cuillier said.
ASUA agreed that this should not be the case and plans to work with Cuillier to expand affordable access to educational tools and resources on campus in the coming year.
The Senate approved close to $7,000 of funding for UA campus clubs that was handed out by its Appropriations Board during its last meeting. ASUA has over $130,000 remaining to help fund UA club activities for the rest of the academic year.
Some of this $7,000 will go to help Turning Point USA, a conservative activist group, attend a Student Activist Summit in West Palm Beach, Florida as well as provide practice space for UA’s Grupo Folklorico Miztontli, which competes in traditional dance competitions across Mexico and the US.
ASUA will meet next Wednesday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m. in the Pima Room of the SUMC. Check back to the Daily Wildcat next week for more coverage of ASUA and their meetings.
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