College students love free stuff, so SGA is working on a plan for free textbooks.
Student Government Association ended the fall 2017 semester by adopting six pieces of legislation. One resolution piece, SSR-17-010, was passed to begin looking at implementing an open textbook system.
“The goal here is that you’re getting more information—more resources—cheaper to free from your professors,” SGA President Keyana Miller said during the meeting.
The legislation was drafted by Miller, and it would allow students access to free or reduced-price materials like textbooks. According to Miller, professors would have the option to seek out materials online for students to use instead of asking them to buy their own materials.
Miller said free, copyrighted materials, articles and TED Talks videos would be possible alternatives to regular textbooks.
SGA recognized this system would mostly benefit students taking general education courses. This is because those courses are taken by almost all students and usually have required textbooks.
Those who enter as freshmen and do not understand textbooks are not always used in courses would especially be financially benefited. Instead of buying all of the books themselves, they could get materials free or at a reduced price.
This change would mean more work for professors to find materials, but Miller said they would receive a $250 stipend for switching to the open textbook system. However, she said there is already $5,000 set aside by Sherrod Library for this program.
A survey was sent to 200 faculty members to determine if they were interested in an open textbook system.
“We had a really solid response from that group,” Miller said during the meeting. “About 70 different faculty members gave feedback. It was all pretty positive.”
SGA Vice President Hunter Shipley said President Brian Noland has already been briefed on the open textbook idea and thought it was a good idea.
“A lot of the administration are already behind this idea, we’re just wanting to put it forth from the students essentially as a voice to say, ‘This is a way to make textbooks cheaper. This is how to open up resources and to make college more accessible’,” said Miller.
In the spring semester, SGA will be working with the library on social media campaigns to understand how students feel about textbook fees.
In addition to an open textbook policy, legislation surrounding a grade forgiveness policy, to-go meals added to the meal plan cost, increasing the campus waste diversion percentage, multilingual food descriptions in the Marketplace, and an act to allow judicial removal were also adopted.
SGA will not meet again until the Spring 2018 semester. Meetings are held Tuesdays at 4 p.m. in the Culp Center’s Forum.