Senate of College Councils crafts policy to make textbooks more affordable

Alexa Ura

A resolution that recommends a new policy to lower textbook costs remains tabled in the University’s Senate of College Councils.

In the last session of the Texas Legislature, representatives passed House Bill 33, legally requiring universities and bookstores to set a deadline for professors to turn in course material lists at least 30 days before classes start. Student senate representatives are calling for further university policy to reduce course material costs.

SR 1111 is a resolution proposed by three Senate representatives that instead pushes for a deadline 30 days before registration periods. The resolution was first introduced on Jan. 19 but has been tabled for a month.

Obtaining lists before the registration period would allow bookstores to compete for better prices and buy more books during the buy back period, making it more beneficial for students, said political communications junior Alex Jones, at-large Senate representative and one of the authors of the bill.

“The deadline before registration would provide students with course material costs for textbooks adopted by different professors teaching the same course,” Jones said. “In trying times, textbook prices could be a deciding factor when registering for a class.”

James Kielty, chief financial officer for the University Co-op, said the bookstore has been working with provosts and the Office of the Registrar in the last couple of months to ensure better textbook prices for students.

The Co-op spent time speaking to students about the resolution passed last year and feels an earlier deadline is beneficial to students, he said.

“The real advantage would be to get book lists for courses in April before the buy back period, because that is where we can save students money,” he said. “If we get book adoption lists for courses earlier, it allows us to buy back books from students and have them on our shelves for the next semester.”

Kielty said it is detrimental to students when professors do not adopt their book list for courses and provide these to the Co-op in a timely manner because it leaves the students with only new books on the shelves from which to pick.

The Texas State University bookstore already employs this system and requires professors to submit book adoption lists for the following semester by a set date, said Douglas Tatsch, assistant manager of the University Bookstore at Texas State.

He said the bookstore asks professors to turn in the book adoptions by March 1 for the fall semester to prepare for the buy back period and figure out how many new books will need to be ordered.

“The set deadline does not have an impact on prices as those are set by the publisher, but it certainly does give us a better chance to collect used books that we buy back from students,” Tatsch said. “That is when the price break can help students.”

Janet Staiger, radio-television-film professor and chair of the Faculty Council’s Education Policy Committee, said the committee would review what student government organizations were developing, since the committee members were very concerned about rising costs of books and other course materials, according to the minutes of the January council meeting.

Jones said he thinks the resolution will make it onto the floor for vote at Senate’s general assembly meeting tomorrow night.

“The Faculty Council said they were open to discussion and wanted to hear the student voice,” he said. “Because the process is already taking place, we wanted to present the ideas we think can be implemented as a recommendation from the students.”

Printed on Thursday, February 23, 2012 as: Senate plans may decrease textbook costs at bookstores