Letters to the Editor

BY DI READERS | AUGUST 30, 2011 7:20 AM

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Textbook system is corrupt

Every August and January, I, like the rest of us, begin the task of preparing for the upcoming semester. The biannual checklist begins: pencils, pens, notebooks, binders, and, oh yeah, the much-loathed textbooks. I usually try to bypass the schemes of the publishing companies by purchasing used or antiquated merchandise on the Internet.

However, there seems to always be a reason I am wandering the aisles of the bookstore during the first week of class. This has usually been the result of a search for access to some online portion of a class mandated by the department as needed for a successful student. In my experience, this has been through the Physics, Chemistry, and Spanish Departments (although I am sure it is more widespread). In the end, it all comes down to torpidity in the form of not wanting to grade assignments. For whatever reason, the university’s compliance with the blatant extortion of students has been particularly disconcerting to me this fall.

Maybe it’s because of the recent experiences I have had with caring and gracious professors who take it upon themselves to provide additional course materials and readings via ICON (thank you!) — or maybe it could be past year’s experiences in European countries where, if there were no other options, the school would provide photocopied American textbooks to all of the students. I think they cared more about the solvency of their students rather than lining the coffers or the copyrights on the cover. No, I think it’s probably the fact that most of the last-minute books purchased this year were covered in shrink-wrap, ensuring that, even if I changed courses or for some other miraculous reason no longer needed this course, I would never see that $150 again.

I, for one, am sick of the university’s claims of student interests while turning to the state Board of Regents for tuition hikes and the publishing companies for closed-door deals. There are cheaper methods of providing students with information, especially in this day and age.

Kyle Siefers
UI student

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