With International Open Access Week spurring new efforts from the student government at Grand Valley State University, lower textbook costs could be brought to the university.
Working with representatives from university libraries, the GVSU Student Senate Educational Affairs Committee has already started work on data collection and education efforts regarding Open Educational Resources (OER) in the hope of working with the university to reduce textbook costs. This week, the committee took its outreach efforts a step further, offering a workshop for the entire Student Senate to connect with the needs of their constituents and reflect on how increased access to OER could resonate and satisfy the needs of their constituents. student needs.
âAs student senators you have the opportunity to sit on most committees, if not all committees that make things happen at the university, and almost all of these committees have a way of bringing up the conversation about REL, âsaid Matt Ruen, GVSU Scholarly Communications Outreach Coordinator.
In coordination with Rueen, Senator Chrystina Ochsankehl led the workshop to spark a voter-focused discussion and talk more about the benefits of OER outside of its reduced textbook costs.
âI don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m looking for books for my classes I wait weeks to get them because they’re not in stock,â Ochsankehl said. âComparatively, for OER, you have immediate access to your textbooks. “
Nonetheless, the costs and complications of textbooks represent an inescapable reality for many – a reality no less evident when the Senate is convened. When Rueen asked how many senators had not purchased textbooks because of their cost, hands were raised across the room. When asked how they would otherwise spend the cost of textbooks for their classes, senators mentioned paying rent, clothing, and tuition, among other necessities.
âIf I had more affordable textbooks, it’s up to $ 500 more that I have to pay for rent, put gas in my car and (and) do grocery shopping,â Faith said. Kidd, Student Senate Vice-President for Educational Affairs. “So making textbooks more affordable for me means I can spend more time working in the Student Senate, where I can devote more time to my studies rather than working because it’s less money. have to withdraw from my bank account. “
Kidd said he also saw the impact that lowering textbook costs could have on others across the student body.
âFor a lot of people who are close to me, they’re in a bit of a similar situation,â Kidd said. “Tuition is expensive, books are expensive, apartments are expensive, life is really expensive.”
Kidd said many students are forced to choose between textbooks and other resources, and basic needs like meal plans.
âThey’re often put in situations where they have to make a choice like, ‘Okay, am I going to buy myself a meal plan or am I going to buy myself books’, and I don’t think you should. never be in this situation as a student, âKidd said.
Rueen and Ochsankehl made sure that the impact Kidd and others would feel would be worth far more than any cost incurred to the university and the surrounding community.
âWe are investing an ‘x’ amount and this will save students in our state five (times) or 10 (times that amount),â Ruen said.
Hoping to inspire a Senate call to action, Ruen said Senators hold a lot of power and influence when it comes to expanding OER and improving the lives of their constituents.
âIf OER was brought up in every committee, the university would take note of it,â Rueen said.
Looking ahead, Kidd said she hopes her committee’s work on member education will soon inspire action across the Senate to not only inspire educators to become more involved in OER, but also support the future legislation of its committee to reduce costs and increase opportunities.