Printing quota the result of a student and faculty survey last semester

?Make it not suck.?

That was one student?s request for changes to the CMU printing system when asked for an opinion by a small user outreach group of CMU Computing Services members last semester. The group, charged with the task of renovating the printing system, released this student?s statement, among the rest of its more formal data, on January 30, 2004, to the CMU community. Their results showed that the great majority of students wanted a change. Among their needs were ?stricter and more aggressive enforcement of page limits? and shorter queues for printing jobs.

CMU Computing Services used this information to implement this semester?s new $40 per student per semester printing quota.

The group analyzed four major categories: quality, cost, convenience, and speed. While answers varied, the general response was to create a type of limit on printing. The survey also asked if students would be willing to use a print kiosk system. A 66 percent positive response rate supported this idea.
Have the problems been solved? Almost everyone seems to agree that printing is cleaner and more efficient, to some extent. The printers are quicker and reduced the extreme amounts of printing and long waits for printing jobs.

Jonathan Perry, a junior psychology major, said, ?I definitely don?t miss the long queues that would make me late for class.? Perry also likes that ?this quota is helping the environment since less paper and ink are being wasted.?

However, not all are as thrilled as Perry. Students worry that they will be faced with a limit that does not meet their printing needs. Erin Danehy, a junior English and creative writing major, said, ?It?s not fair for those who have to print more than 50 pages per reading assignment.?

Sharon Dilworth, professor of English and creative writing, said, ?This quota has even affected the students? work to a certain extent, since they now take into account the length of their papers when writing.? Over 40 percent of professors in both the College of Fine Arts and the School of Computer Science reported needing between 750 and 1000 pages per month for classes, with most other colleges not far behind in the high-30-percent range. However, according to the survey results conducted by the survey group, about 85 percent of those surveyed wanted no more than 500 pages per semester. So why has this problem arisen, since the printing service gives students 800 pages per semester?

One student, senior CS major James Tong, explains, ?This quota doesn?t take into account the printing needed outside of our academic lives.? Tong reports that Mock Trial, one of his clubs, requires a minimum of 3000 pages. ?How am I supposed to manage this with an 800-page quota??

Tong?s opinion mirrors the cries of frustration on campus. Meena Lakhavani, the Director of User and Educational Services, clarifies that ?printing is not a part of tuition. Computing Services has always allotted a certain amount of money to printing for the University. The quota actually lowered the cost of maintaining a functioning printing system on campus.? It has ?saved a lot of trees and has allowed us to allot more money to classroom technologies, the first of which was increased Web space implemented this semester.?

She continues, ?Students should not worry too much about going over the quota; experimentally, 95 percent of users last year did not go over this year?s limits.?

As for the clubs, Lakhavani states, ?Clubs are responsible for a budget, and Computing Services assumes that printing would be a part of that budget; therefore, they can easily purchase printing cards to satisfy their needs from any number of the outlets on campus.? On top of that, ?Students who require more than the allotted amount can easily add money to their printing budget via the same means.?
Lakhavani concluded that Computing Services is working consistently to improve the printing and computing systems on campus.