SGA Discusses Open Textbooks and Parents’ Weekend

Vice Chapter Chair of Trinity Connecticut Public Interest Research Group (CONNPIRG) Jimmy Boissy met with the Student Government Association (SGA) on March 4, 2018 to discuss the possibility of using open textbooks. He argued that costs of textbooks are exorbitant, and simply too high for many students to afford, frequently costing from $200 to $300. Often, the books are so unaffordable due to certain practices of the textbook industry, such as creating a new edition every few years with just slight updates, and requiring access codes with the books so that they can’t be sold back. In response to this prevalent issue, CONNPIRG proposed the solution of using free textbooks online, or open textbooks. Such books are produced through a grant given to professors at different colleges to write them, and are then peer edited. Online editions would be free, and printed copies would cost somewhere between $20 and $40. Nationally, 65% of students do not purchase books for class because they can’t afford them, and 25% of students drop courses because the books are too expensive to buy. University of Massachusetts, Amherst has utilized these open books since the spring of 2011 and has saved $1.8 million for college students on textbooks.
CONNPIRG has scheduled meetings with the deans of the school as well as with the Financial Aid Office to discuss this proposal. They are hoping to at least set up a pilot program whereby the administration would give small grants to members of the faculty who agree to use open books. If applied, this pilot program would target courses known to have books available already, especially for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) courses. The general consensus of SGA was to pass this resolution.
SGA moved on to discuss the possibility of combining Parents’ Weekend with Homecoming, an idea proposed by Director of Alumni Relations Stephen Donovan. Currently, the two programs are a month apart. Mr. Donovan suggested this idea due to a lack of programming for Parents’ Weekend, as well as a desire to see more participation in sporting events and more people on campus for school spirit. The theoretical date would be moved closer to Parent’s Weekend, and therefore earlier in the year than Homecoming currently is. The general consensus of SGA was that this was not a good idea, and that it would be better to keep the events separate as they both have very different purposes. Instead, this issue could be addressed by coming up with more programs for Parents’ Weekend. Brainstorming this question came up with the possibilities of a football game, a day time barbecue, food trucks, a block party, and a photo opportunity. However, it was also agreed that there should not be programming at night, as most parents decide to take their students out to dinner.

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