Affordable Textbook campaign seeks to save students hundreds

By Staff Writer Kylie Cooper.

Staff Writer Students are coming together in support of classes using affordable or open textbooks as part of MASSPIRG’s new Affordable Textbooks campaign.

The campaign seeks to resolve the issue many students have of struggling to pay for textbooks and access codes.“The overall goal of this campaign is to let administrators know that the student body ispaying too much on textbooks,” said Bryce Vickery ‘20, Campaign Organizer and Political Science major.

“We want the administrative body to initiate a fund that will go toward the library staff that will train professors on how to use and distribute open textbooks.”

The campaign plans for the library staff to train teachers on utilizing open textbooks by means of workshops.

Open textbooks have an open license, which means they may be legally downloaded and shared online amongst students.

Before reaching out to administration, however, the Affordable Textbooks campaign must gather support from the campus community. To do so, Vickery has been holding tabling events called Textbook Broke. “As students walk by, we’re questioning them about how much money they’ve spent on textbooks,” Vickery said.

Students fill in how much money they’ve spent this semester on a white board and then pose for a photo petition with it, which is then posted to MASSPIRG’s social media accounts.

At the end of the tabling events, the money students have spent will be totaled to present to the administrative body.

Amongst the responses have been figures ranging everywhere between $50 to $775. “Financially, I’m not in the position to currently afford textbooks,” said Kiki Bekkum ‘22, a Psychology major who has spent about $600 on textbooks and access codes.

Because of the costs, some students may not even buy their required textbooks or access codes at all.

“They’re set up for failure from the beginning,” said Keith Marcoccia ‘19, a Political Science major.

Past student outreach, the Affordable Textbooks campaign has also drawn support from staff.

“We have collected signatures and sign-ons from professors who would be more interested to learn about open-source textbooks and going to these workshops,” Vickery said.

Support for affordable and open textbooks has resulted in about 35 student responses and 25 professor signatures so far.Nationwide, the Affordable Textbooks campaign has achieved great success for over a decade.

One of the most recent victories was this past September, when the work of StudentPIRGs across the country helped result in Congress renewing the $5 million Open Textbook Pilot for the second year.

This Pilot supports college and university projects “that create new open textbooks or expand their use of open textbooks,” according to the U.S. Department of Education.
While UMassD’s Affordable Textbooks campaign may be new this semester, Vickery is hoping to assemble a strong team to support the cause and save us all hundreds of dollars.

“As students, we already spend a lot of money on our tuition bill,” Vickery said. “We shouldn’t have to pay to do our homework and take our tests.”

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