GV Student Senate EAC Pledges to Reduce Textbook Costs – Grand Valley Lanthorn

Student concerns about class expenses are not unusual. One solution has already started saving Grand Valley State University students hundreds of thousands of dollars a year and could save them a lot more. It leads the GVSU Student Senate and its Educational Affairs Committee (EAC) to take over from reducing textbook costs.

In their October 21 meeting, the Student Senate hosted speakers Matt Ruen, GVSU Scholarly Communication Coordinator, and Justin Melick of GVSU University Libraries. The representatives both stressed the importance of reducing the costs of textbooks and resources and explained how to do it. Their proposal: open educational resources (OER).

“In the library, on campus, in online learning, we care (and) work to support the use of OER and zero-cost materials in part because we recognize that the cost of educational materials is a problem. a real barrier to learning (and) a real barrier to education, ”said Rueen.

Providing additional context to underline its importance, Rueen detailed for the Senate what exactly OER is.

“It’s the same meaning that ‘open’ is used in open source software,” Ruen said. “It’s available free for people to find and use, but also includes permission for other users to edit, customize, combine open materials to do new things with them. “

Expanding access, Ruen told the Senate, can help significantly alleviate potential financial burdens on students.

“When a teacher chooses to use an open textbook or other free material, I say zero to encompass items like journal articles from library collections, the university ends up paying for these,” Ruen said. “As an individual student taking these courses, you are not paying for these journal articles. “

Rueen’s research into how more REL at GVSU might affect students suggests it might not be a small drop in the bucket. Ruen and Melick estimated for the Senate that the presence of OER access saved students about $ 540,000 last year alone.

Rueen spoke of the steps the Student Senate has taken previously to help the expansion of OER, including passing a resolution to endorse OER and encouraging its use by faculty, as well as requesting an academic task force to help. the cause. Recently, Rueen and Melick have been gaining momentum with the help of a dedicated ally, Faith Kidd, Student Senate Vice President for Educational Affairs.

“The reason I was even interested in the job in the first place was because I believe everyone should be able to access education and educational resources to move forward,” Kidd said. “I think open access and open resources for students are part of equity in education, because if our textbooks are free or affordable, more students can access them and more people can learn.

Together, Kidd said his committee and library representatives have already made progress in expanding access to OER on campus.

“As Matt mentioned today, we are providing funds to publishers and curators to increase the use of open educational resources on campus,” Kidd said. “So I think the university is gradually taking steps. “

Kidd also referred to a survey released by his committee regarding the costs of students’ textbooks and their enrollment status.

“We will use this data to draft legislation to be submitted to the (University Senate) and (Senate Executive Council) to prove, for example:” This is what students spend on textbooks (and) this is what that they could spend money, ”Kidd said.

Ahead of International Open Access Week next week, Kidd and his representatives are already planning other events to raise awareness about OER.

Going forward, Kidd aims to push the university to include open access and resources in all general education courses, paving the way for reduced costs that will be felt throughout the student body.

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