UI bids paper farewell


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In an effort to increase sustainability throughout the University of Iowa, departments in the school are beginning to expand paper policies put into place over the past six years.

As of this year, the Political Science Department has become a "paperless department," placing the syllabuses for classes online as opposed to printing out a copy for each student, giving the student the option to print.

"I believe all of the departments in our university are making the effort to move toward paperless and sustainable practices, some at a faster pace than others," said UI Director of Sustainability Liz Christiansen.

In addition to posting syllabus online, the department has placed all hiring applications online.

"One thing we are doing this year is moving the hiring process for our department through the electronic systems of Human Resources," said William Reisinger, a UI professor of political science and the director of undergraduate studies. "Candidates from outside the university seeking employment will now submit all of their résumés and references through the electronic system to be reviewed."

From 2005 to 2009, the purchase of paper by the UI has dropped nearly 57 percent because of additional adjustments such as moving the university catalogue exclusively online. Previously, a booklet was printed for each incoming student.

"Paper is the most common purchase for universities, and reducing the amount that we consume is not only beneficial from the standpoint of sustainability but from an economic standpoint as well," Christiansen said.

Although the changes have benefited the UI economically and environmentally and have increased efficiency, not all students are thrilled by the changes. 

"I think it's great that the university is going paperless and trying to be more conscious of the resources it's using, but the less paper it uses, the more money it costs me to print," said UI freshman Kate Wolz. 

The suggested alternative to students bringing their own printer also proves to be a costly solution for UI students.

"I brought a printer for my dorm, but the costs of buying ink and paper are even worse than having to pay the 5 cents per page to print in the computer lab," Wolz said.

With the money that has been saved because of the decreased necessity for paper, the UI has used to further fund electronic alternatives.

"It's an efficiency effort as well, it's not just the aspects of time, customer service and the environment, but it also increases productivity and allows business to move faster and easier online," Christiansen said." The funds saved that have been saved through reducing paper purchases has allowed us to strengthen the computer systems and electronic alternatives that have taken the place of paper."

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