Kelly Dawes Smith,

Some of you will know exactly what I am about to describe and some of you will wonder how you missed the crazy phenomenon that swept through Oxford two weeks ago. For two days on campus, King Library and some of the other printing sources on campus had free printing.

Let me just say that it was amazingly satisfying to hit that print button, walk to one of the printers and click on my 10 page document with swipe card ready in hand and have the computer read $0.00 next to my unique ID.

I should have felt bad I was killing trees as I printed anything I desired for free. However, the fact that we already pay 10 cents per sheet to print with printers that have already been paid for with bulk quantities of paper and ink Miami provides for those printers somehow justified, in my frugal college mind, these few sheets of papers I was freely printing.

For a small period, even the color printer at King Library was available to print documents for free. I laughed as I saw students going back and forth from their computers, printing what looked like endless documents of materials.

The ironic part of all of this was that no one said anything about the free printing. It was as if it was our little secret and we were all too nervous to speak out loud the sweet words, “Printing is free,” all for the fear it would stop being true.

I laughed over this whole scenario with friends and even some staff, but the real question is: why was I so excited to print for free? I know that anything labeled “free” that is catered to college students makes us giddy. Free food; we all flock towards that restaurant. Let’s face it, we all love the word free, but free printing? I never thought I would see so many students excited over this. One of the core reasons for this is that professors have been told to cut back on the amount they are allowed to print and photocopy for students. Thus, students now have to print out articles, journals and PowerPoint slides just to walk into class truly prepared. Students are buying printers at reasonable prices, but to keep enough ink and paper for the constant demand of how many documents are needed for 15 credit hours of study is extremely costly. Just a black ink cartridge from HP alone, not even the color cartridge, costs at least $15, with prices going up to even $35.

So here’s the bottom line: teachers are requiring students to print out more documents and students have to spend more of their own money to do so. The result is that students are not bringing documents to class because, let’s face it, if a teacher wants you to bring in a document that is 30 pages it’s much easier to just “forget.” There is a way to solve this problem.

Each year we have various fees tacked onto our tuition, like the Miami Metro bus fee. A way to solve the printing frustration is to have a small fee included in tuition at the beginning of the year which would allow students to print a maximum of 5 pages a day. Anything more than that, Miami could charge the 10 cents per sheet to make revenue. If students are charged $80 at the beginning of the year, this would mean that they could print out 5 pages daily without having to worry about cutting corners and not being prepared for class. If you want to condense PowerPoint notes onto five pages, then you can. If you need to print out a four page paper, you can.

Many people might not want to have extra fees added to their tuition, but in the end it would help with students being prepared for their classes. Not everyone got to partake in the printing scandal that flowed across our campus, but our school and every student can learn from the unique experience.