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Less than 7 percent of students have exceeded print quota

Editor’s note: Every Friday, CM Life will publish an in-depth piece, examining different issues.

With only one week left in the semester, more than 1,400 students have used the entirety of their PrintQ allocation, according to information from the Office of Information Technology.

About 1,452 students, 120 graduate and 1,332 undergraduates, had exceeded their $15 and $10 allocations respectively by Nov. 30. This is less than seven percent of the 21,386 students that have at least attempted to print in an on-campus computer lab.

Jeff McDowell, associate director of university services and support at the CMU Help Desk, said the system seems to be performing within its design parameters.

“We wanted to make sure the printing methods matched the needs of the students,” he said. “We based it on real data, and that was printing with no quota, no restrictions. If you add a quota to that, it lowers everyone’s printing.”

McDowell said  more than $70,000 worth of paper is predicted to be saved by the end of the semester as a result of various go-green programs, including PrintQ, adopted by the university.

That is more than 3 million pieces of paper, which equals approximately 46 trees worth of paper in savings, he said.

“I would have to say given the goal we were trying to reach, which was to effectively create a solution that works for 60 to 70 percent of students, everything I’ve seen in the numbers suggests we’re right on target to do that,” said Roger Rehm, vice president of Information Technology. “I think there are still lots of questions as to whether that target is the right strategy, and that’s what we’re looking at: are there ways the system should be tweaked? Right now it seems like it’s really working pretty well.”

The data shows the targeted 60th to 70th percentile range of undergraduate students have printed an average of $4.87 of the allotted $10, well below expectations, McDowell said, while graduate students in the target range have printed an average of $8.14 of their allotted $15.

Rehm said the data shows many students do not print in on-campus computer labs at all.

According to the data, approximately 5,805 students never printed a single page of their PrintQ allocation.

Rehm said despite PrintQ’s apparent success, further analysis must be done to ensure the program accommodates students as effectively as possible.

“Anecdotally, probably everybody knows someone who has a real problem with the system,” he said. “There are certainly people that have gone over.”

Flushing junior Patrick Glasson said he thinks changes need to be made to the PrintQ system.

“I think that something should be done about people overprinting, but I feel like its the wrong way to do it,” he said. “It can be really restricting to certain students. One of my really good friends is a creative writing major so he has to write and print a lot.”

Glasson suggested instructors require students to submit homework and papers electronically instead of a physical copy.

“With the tuition we’re paying, you’d think we could at least print what we needed for free, or at least have a higher allocation in the event we need it,” he said.

McDowell said the Office of Information Technology will have a discussion about the program at the end of the semester, when all the data can be gathered and analyzed.

At that point, all the information will be brought to the student advisory committee. This committee provides feedback on a various Information Technology programs, including PrintQ.

The group was designed to give feedback for exactly these kinds of services, Rehm said.

He said the PrintQ system may see changes in the future, but at this point he is unsure of what those changes might be.

“There’s nobody that’s opposed to changing it if we can make it better — the question is, what does ‘make it better’ mean,” Rehm said. “The next big thing is a pretty thorough analysis of the numbers we have at the end of the term. I wouldn’t anticipate any significant changes until fall at the earliest.”