Herculean Labor

By Danielle Norris

After two months in place, the new WEPA printing system has prompted mixed reactions from faculty and students. At the beginning of the semester, Bridgewater implemented the new printing system in order to decrease wasted paper on campus. WEPA is a pay-per-page wireless printing kiosk system which is a dramatic change to BC’s previous printing system, in which students had no restrictions on printing with the hardwired printers in the computer labs on campus.

Tyler Goss, president of the Bridgewater College Environmental Task Force said that students are still getting used to the idea of paying to print. “People are starting to understand how the system works and they’re getting more in the mindset of what they should and shouldn’t print because they have to pay for it,” he said. In order to help students adjust to having to pay for printing, the college gives each student a five dollar stipend each semester to offset the cost of printing.

WEPA charges eight cents per page for black and white printing, with a half penny per page discount for printing double sided. “I think it should be a bit cheaper and I think that instead of being charged per page they [students] should get charged once you exceed a certain limit,” Lindsay Davis said. Davis noted that the cost of printing has impacted her study habits. “I already am feeling flustered because note taking takes more time when I’m reading online instead of printing it out. I don’t think [reading PDFs online] will change [my] grade, the only problem is taking more time to read,” she said.

Academic impact is also a concern of faculty members. Dr. Randy Young has always preferred that students print their papers out before handing them in. “I’d rather have [students] print it out so that I know they were responsible enough to print it out before class,” he said. “If a student sends me something electronically…whether I’m right or wrong, my mindset is that there probably wasn’t a draft,” Dr. Young added.

Dr. Young said that he grades hard copies of things because it’s easier for him than grading on the computer. Additionally, he hands out hard copies of articles for class discussion. “I think students will read it and process it more when they have it physically in front of them and they’ll take notes in the margin,” he explained.

Dr. Young’s reliance on physical papers is a common one among faculty. “One thing I’ve heard [is that] it doesn’t seem like there’s been too much faculty change,” Tyler Goss said. “Instead of Bridgewater just pushing students to make a change, Bridgewater as a whole community needs to make a change as well,” he added.

Dr. Christian Sheridan, assistant professor of English is one faculty member that WEPA has not affected. Dr. Sheridan has always taken assignments electronically. “I prefer not to get paper copies. I find it easier to grade on screen,” he said.

Grading electronically also benefits his students. “My handwriting is kind of atrocious and I want students to be able to read what I have to say,” he said. “And I find I comment more because I can type faster than I write,” he added. Dr. Sheridan also uses text completion software while commenting on student papers so he doesn’t have to rewrite the same comments again and again.

Software has been an issue for some students using WEPA. “Yesterday I tried to sign in to my account and it told me ‘error come back in a few minutes’ for thirty minutes,” Brandy Brode said.

Lindsay Davis, a Writing Center tutor, said she has had to help students print using WEPA frequently. “I work three days and I probably get between one and three people asking [for help],” she said. Davis said she doesn’t mind having to help students, as she considers the printing system to be a part of the Writing Center.

Matthew Staton says the system isn’t user friendly. “It has like a hundred steps to print. You’ve got to log in to your account, put in passwords, take a stroll over to the machine and get the little animated bald guy to disappear, then put in more passwords,” he said. “It’s a process. It’s like the thirteenth labor of Hercules.”

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