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Senators pass resolution to support textbook affordability

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February 28, 2016

12:27 PM

After it was announced last week that The Save the Future of Humanity from Excessive Textbook Expenses bill would not be brought again before the senate, Sen. Danny O’Dea ’16 introduced a resolution that called the Student Assembly to advocate for Open Educational Resources. During Tuesday night’s meeting, senators passed this resolution by a vote of unanimous consent and discussed what it meant for the future of textbook affordability.

The Make College Affordable Again bill charges members of the SA to advocate for the use of Open Educational Resources and the programs currently using OER textbooks, as well as to further communications between professors, the administration, the Board of Visitors and the student body.

“This was a resolution in support of Open Educational Resource textbooks as an option for both professors and students to decrease the financial burden that is placed increasingly on students in textbook costs,” O’Dea said. “This is something that the College and absolutely the Student Assembly should get behind and I think the student body will support this bill.”

The original textbook bill arose as part of a campaign promise by SA President Yohance Whitaker ’16 and Vice President Catie Pinkerton ‘16 to use SA to fight to remove some of the financial burdens on students attending the College of William and Mary. The bill originally skipped the committee process which resulted in senators voting to table the bill. After the spring registration add/drop period passed, senators decided to table it indefinitely.

“I just have a question, since this is a resolution and not allocating money like the previous bill did, will we be creating a plan to allocate that funding again and create a new bill, or will we just not,” Yesowitz said.

Following the tabling of the original bill, Dean of University Libraries Carrie Cooper and Digital Scholarship Librarian and Arts Librarian Kathleen DeLaurenti asked the senators to sign a pledge in support of open resources and to introduce and pass legislation that would allocate funding to awarding faculty who have succeeded in using OER textbooks and funding that would help move more courses onto open resources.

While this resolution carries out the first of the librarians’ requests, the SA has yet to finalize a plan to meet their second ones. Some senators, such as Class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19, questioned the senate’s decision to not allocate funding.

“I just have a question, since this is a resolution and not allocating money like the previous bill did, will we be creating a plan to allocate that funding again and create a new bill, or will we just not,” Yesowitz said.

At last week’s meeting Chairman of the Senate Dan Ackerman ’16 said the new bill did not allocate funding because the add/drop registration period for this semester is over. He also said then that there are no immediate plans for introducing a bill that would allocate funding directly because the senate is working on developing a beta program for OER to start this summer.

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However, Pinkerton announced that SA Secretary of Outreach Hope Thompson ’16 will be meeting with the librarians from the Earl Gregg Swem Library to develop a plan to educate the student body on OER and to figure out how the SA can be better advocates. Thompson is expected to brief senate committees on that plan next weekend. Pinkerton also mentioned that there is a potential for the introduction of a bill at a later date that would allocate funding for specific marketing measures.

“We all were here to hear the librarians explain it, and recently I have heard how greatly this has benefited the physics department,” Sen. Eboni Brown ’17 said. “I think this bill is a step in the right direction to make college affordable for students again.”

O’Dea also said that he hoped that after the passage of this bill, the next term of the SA senate will pass legislation that would allocate funding for textbook affordability.

The passage of this bill has come as the result of five consecutive weeks of discussing textbook affordability and a potential SA plan to reduce textbook costs.

“We all were here to hear the librarians explain it, and recently I have heard how greatly this has benefited the physics department,” Sen. Eboni Brown ’17 said. “I think this bill is a step in the right direction to make college affordable for students again.”

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About Author

Sarah Smith

News Editor Sarah Smith '19 is an undeclared major from Ashburn, VA. She formerly served as Associate News Editor.