University News

School of Engineering cuts free printing

Contributing Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Prior to this semester, engineering concentrators were granted exclusive access to printing in Barus and Holley free of charge. But a new rule instituted at the beginning of this semester revoked that right. 

Free printing was eliminated to make the engineering department more “environmentally friendly,” said Dean of the School of Engineering Lawrence Larson. 

“Back in 2008, (former president) Ruth Simmons charged the engineering department for its carbon footprint impact,” Larson said. He added that 6,000 pounds of paper, or about 15 pounds of paper per engineering student, produced 30 tons of carbon during the 2011-12 academic year alone. 

In 2008, as part of the University’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals, Simmons called for a 42 percent reduction of its carbon footprint below 2007 levels by 2020.

Some engineering students are finding it difficult to adjust to the policy change, which now provides them the $30 of printing funds for Pawprints that all students receive. 

As of Sept. 26, there were almost 150 signatures on an online petition of engineering students unhappy with the loss of credits. Alternative solutions anonymously suggested in the petition include the increased digitization of class material and the distribution of printed packets by professors.

“I would like the dean of engineering  to fix this,” said Selena Buzinky ’15. “It was a poor choice to have such a drastic change from free printing to no printing in such a short time without notifying us.” 

Other students admitted that they had taken advantage of the free printing policy in the past. 

“I have used engineering privileges for printing non-engineering related subjects,” said Richard Park ’15. “I even know engineers who have printed entire books unrelated to engineering.”

A solution could involve hiring a “computer attendant to regulate what is being printed to make sure everything being printed is applicable to engineering,” Park added.

David Mycue, director of information technology for the School of Engineering, said the department’s concern lies “with meeting CIS provisions in compliance with Brown’s Brown is Green Initiative.” 

In an email to engineering undergraduate students sent Sept. 20, Mycue wrote that discussions regarding transitioning to Pawprints “only developed in mid-summer.” In the email, which was the first official announcement of the change, he apologized for the late notice. 

“The communication to students for this change had not been what it should,” Mycue wrote. 

Mycue also wrote about the services offered by the department to ease the students’ transition, including help with the initial configuration of PawPrints. Other engineering faculty and staff also said they hope an agreement could be reached between the school and its students. 

“We’re committed to working with students and making any changes to the policy as the year goes on,” said Gordon Morton, manager of communications for the School of Engineering.

Larson echoed the sentiment and said faculty and staff are “very anxious to work with students to reach a compromise that will make everyone happy.”


  1. I’m really surprised that the comments of senior engineering students or alumni, people with more experience with the School of Engineering, were not in this article. Or maybe they weren’t interviewed at all. An electronic petition started by the Engineering Class of 2013 went out with over 140 signatures (and counting) that showed more solutions and rational grievances, which could provide a broader view of the story.

    I love all student years of engineering, but as a senior, I do not appreciate the fact that all student / non-administrative comments were from sophomore interviews.

  2. Addendum: I guess Chad does mention said petition, but it still provides better solutions such as reduced quotas. Some of the grievances point to printer efficiency, which has gotten far worse (the original 4 fast printers have been reduced to 2 slow ones) , forcing students to print at the Sci Li. All accounts were not connected to the printers, and the required process to print seemed cumbersome or, in some cases, didn’t work at all. This makes students less likely to work in the B&H computer lab, resulting in an atmosphere devoid of life. People are less likely to work there and learn from one another, basically destroying the lab seniors and alumni used to know.

    The printing wasn’t unlimited. It used to be 75 pages black and white and 10 pages of color a day. Engineering students print a lot due to lab reports, code, problem sets, and notes. A lot of printing happens during exam periods. With the reduced efficiency, one can imagine long lines of people waiting for printing. Of course, there’s the tableslip problem, which can be easily solved by a reduced quota, not a complete cutoff and reliance on PawPrints.

    However, Chad, thank you for covering this situation.

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