Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Redoubling their efforts

For years, we have affectionately referred to the Academic Affairs Committee of the Associated Students of Madison as the “Textbook Committee.” A grassroots committee of ASM, Academic Affairs is charged with dealing with “current student issues.” However, all we have been able to think up for the last couple years has been the rising cost of textbooks.

At the start of each semester, Academic Affairs hosts a textbook swap (as do other groups like Polygon, the engineering student council) then shrinks peacefully back into obscurity, occasionally reemerging to publish a letter to the editor on the rising cost of textbooks and the like.

This arrangement has served the student body and the committee itself reasonably well. Until now, that is.

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Tuesday, Academic Affairs called for Shared Governance to create a “Textbook Affordability Committee” consisting of students, faculty and staff.

The purpose of the committee would be to actively research issues pertaining to the textbook market and make progress toward more affordable course materials. This could be done at various levels, including students, faculty and publishers.

We understand the benefits they are aiming for as well. A Shared Governance committee would formally incorporate faculty and administration into the process, rather than the informal relationship the grassroots Academic Affairs committee had forged.

To be sure, Academic Affairs Committee Chair Jonah Zinn and company have done yeoman’s work compiling statistics on textbook prices and usage by the student body here at the University of Wisconsin. Complemented by anecdotal evidence from everyone’s roommate, Academic Affairs’ data makes it clear that the cost of textbooks constitutes a serious “current student issue”.

However, if the “textbook committee” actually succeeds in creating another textbook committee, where will that leave them? Will the entirety of Academic Affairs just get demoted? To date, the “textbook committee” has put forth a worthy effort to lower the prices of textbooks. From working with the University Committee to pushing instructors to release book lists earlier toand waging an affordable textbook campaign, the committee’s efforts have been clearly focused, if not always successful.

We recommend that the Academic Affairs Ccommittee, now free of the responsibility to make connections with the administration on a day-to-day basis, focus its attention on other matters. In particular, the moderately successful book swap should be revamped to benefit more students.

Creating a second committee with almost identical aims could lead to twice the BSBS typical of ASM’s operations. We hope that instead of duplicating the same projects, the two committees will instead branch out to achieve twice the benefit.

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