The ‘PrintShare’ Program

Way back when, printing on campus was free for the taking. This snowballed out of control pretty quickly, as one would expect.

From September 2007 to September 2008, SU students printed more than 4.5 million pages at five printers in four locations managed by the Lemieux Library and OIT. Based on information supplied by the university’s sustainability and recycling staff, this volume of printing consumed approximately 540 trees.

In 2009, Seattle University put the kibutz on that. Administrators came up with a fair number to replace the free-for-all with, and implemented a generous printing allowance of 125 free sheets/ student/ quarter. Like a lot of programs on campus, the intention behind PrintShare had sustainability at the forefront:

The program is expected to make a significant contribution to enhancing environmental sustainability, to reinforce smart pedagogical practices and to help manage limited university financial resources.

In the years since this allowance took effect, Seattle University has enjoyed a healthy growth rate facilitated in no small part by strategic measures to expand and improve upon existing curricula, and introduce new programming to position us more competitively. This growth is just getting started — the next 5 years will see record enrollments across our entire academic catalog.

While this is awesome news for the University, the community, and obviously students and alumni, it also paints a grim picture for our sustainability goals — one  aspect of which is the PrintShare program, as it stands today. It doesn’t take a regression analysis to figure out that 125 sheets/ student  starts to add up a lot faster when the number of avid printers is on the steady incline. From an environmental perspective, that’s a lot of trees, toner, energy and waste. The financial side of things only reinforces how ultimately unsustainable this program is. Resources directed to “free” printing could be much better allocated elsewhere within the University’s operations.

Having punched all the numbers, the powers that be have begun the conversation around appropriate next steps. No final decisions have been made at this time, however it’s pretty clear that a change is inevitable. And this is a GOOD THING.

This is where you come in! As a printing individual, your voice is invaluable to this process.

Send your two cents to the GSC, and we’ll forward your input to the parties heading up this effort. 


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