Members of student government continued assessing solutions to textbook affordability on campus as well as considered mandatory advisory meetings for freshmen Wednesday.
In a University Affairs Committee meeting, representatives laid out initiatives to create a textbook swap program to aid students with textbook costs. Past initiatives, like the Associated Students of Madison Textbook Swap which used to take place before each semester from 2008 through 2011 have been called “unstructured” by current University Affairs Chair Becca Buell.
Buell has said the program, which involved ASM coordinating swapping students’ textbooks and handling cash was not effective, and current efforts aim to create a similar exchange that is more financially and logistically feasible.
To generate ideas for a new program, the committee is looking at four separate initiatives to amount to one solution. Proposals brought to the committee included increasing the use of e-books by professors as texts for class, creating a campus textbook swap program, expanding rental textbook availability and requiring professors to post textbook information two weeks before the start of the semester.
Regarding revamping e-book availability, some committee members voiced concern that it would be difficult for students without Internet access and the cost savings would not be very large. In light of speculations over this and the issue of compliance, Buell said she will continue to research the issue.
As for the proposal recommending expansion in University Bookstore rental textbook availability, members said the current program is seen as under-utilized.
Buell said the proposed book swap would be school, department or major specific, and the structure would resemble the CoE-Wide Book Exchange sponsored by Polygon and other engineering organizations. The committee will look into setting a date and space for the swap.
The subcommittee needs to do further research to determine the structure of the swap and is in the process of reaching out to the Engineering School’s student leadership for more information, according to Buell.
Regarding the initiative to require professors to post textbook requirements online at least two weeks ahead of the semester starting date, the committee agreed this would be helpful for students purchasing books from sellers outside the bookstore.
The strength of any mandatory timeline would be a question for more research, according to Grace Bolt, assistant ASM press officer director.
Current federal laws protect student rights on this issue as well as university rules for its professors that the committee decided needed more research, Bolt said.
“I think all of them will take a lot more research,” Bolt said.
The committee also considered the idea of mandatory advising for freshmen in its meeting.
Referencing the difficulty students face with online registration networks, Buell said the committee wants to advocate for what students want to see from their advisors.
An increased personal connection between advisor and students is important to academic success as well as possible mental health benefits for at-risk students, Buell said.
A required meeting per semester for freshmen could be an option, she added.
However, Buell said this approach would be “impossible to practically implement,” accounting for the lack of staff.
The connection between ASM and The Center for Academic Advising is growing and both continue to look for input on the issue as they seek a dynamic and practical way to address students’ needs, Buell said.
The committee will determine the date and structure of an interactive event where students can give feedback.