How Uniprint is striving to lower those numbers
What do health education, nursing, and music theory composition majors have in common? Last year, they printed over 900 sheets of paper per person. Other majors are not far behind; psychology majors printed an average of 834 sheets, and elementary education majors printed 789 sheets.
“I think we print more than other people do,” said Kelly Jordahl, senior and elementary education major. “I know that I print a lot of stuff.”
Last year, Concordia implemented a new piece to the current printing system, Uniprint, that allowed printing data to be collected by major.
“We really wanted to get a handle on how we are printing,” said Bruce Vieweg, associate vice president and chief information officer of ITS. “If we look at economics [department], it’s the lowest printing. The highest is…health education.
The breakdown by major really helped the college to make sense of printing on campus, allowing a broader awareness of printing trends, while also giving a new means in which to address sustainability issues.
“It’s nice to see which departments are spending the most, and maybe those are the ones that need to think about how to reduce the amount that they are printing,” said Samantha Hill, sustainability coordinator. “It kind of puts the accountability on the majors.”
Based on the data collected from last year, the average student prints 683 sheets of paper.
“The average for the entire campus is about $34 dollars a year [per student],” Vieweg said. “Are you serious? That is not bad at all. A little over a ream of paper each. Again, not bad at all.”
Individually, this amount is not inherently surprising, but there are 2400 students, each using some variation of the average.
“It amounts to a ton if you multiply it out to how many students we have on campus,” Jordahl said.
Last year, as a whole, student printing cost approximately $82,000, and consisted of over 560,000 sheets of paper.
“Calculated out, it’s about 163 trees that we use each year, and that’s on the low side,” Hill said.
Despite these numbers, since the implementation of Uniprint, the amount of printing has decreased, according to Vieweg.
“We implement Uniprint, and the amount of printing goes down. We implement this new model where you log in, and usage goes down. It’s like every time we make a tweak, it really causes us, and I really mean us, to think.” Vieweg said.
Uniprint’s features have aided in the reduction of printing. These features include having to log in to the system from a particular computer in order to print a job, rather than being able to print directly from one’s laptop, and having a dollar amount at the bottom of the screen. Because of these features, there is less waste as people can only print a particular job once and it shows them how much printing the sheets costs.
“Now they have a price on the bottom of the screen. It’s not real money, but…it makes you [more] aware,” Jordahl said.
Vieweg has seen many of these same results before, as he had previously overseen the implementation of Uniprint at Saint Louis University, where computer labs were all managed by central IT.
“I asked the managers in those labs to dumpster dive after every day and save the waste. It would fill that table over there by 2 feet high,” Vieweg said, pointing to a 6-by-2.5-foot table.
Vieweg knew that this much waste was unsustainable and impractical, so he decided to speak at a student government meeting.
“I had this pile of paper, [and] I put it on the podium. Nobody could see me because it was higher than I was. I leaned around [the stack of papers], and I said, ‘You’re paying for this.’ And that’s when we started Uniprint at St. Louis University,” Vieweg said.
While Concordia’s transition was not nearly as dramatic, the decision was just as revolutionary. Vieweg met with a group of RAs and resident students to talk about purchasing new computers for the labs in each of the residence halls. Of the ten computers, only a few were being used, so the group decided to buy only three new computers in each lab, and use the rest of the funds to purchase and implement Uniprint.
Digital resources and access to technology have also helped reduce printing.
“I think that having technology that we, as a college, invest in should be trickled down into classrooms,” Hill said. “I think [digital resources are] where society is headed and where our professors should be at.”
According to Hill, If it does not need to be printed, students should be trusted to have it in a digital form, yet many still print from online and from Moodle. For Jordahl and other elementary education majors, printing long documents, such as the Educational Teachers Performance Assessment, is a necessary part of the major.
“[Professors] try to put things on Moodle pages, but I work better having a paper copy than just having it on the screen,” Jordahl said.
Many recognize that some work better from a tangible copy.
“Could we print less? Sure, but we have to look carefully at how that would impact pedagogy. Does it negatively impact pedagogy?” Vieweg said. “I think, ultimately, it becomes an academic community question. We are spending around $80,000 a year or so on printing. Would we like to spend $40,000 instead of $80,000? Yes, ma’am. But not at the expense of academics.”
The same goes for the numbers by major, which Vieweg considers to be quite natural given the needs of the majors.
“[Some majors need to print more than others] given the nature of the majors, and I’m not bothered at all by that,” Vieweg said. “I’m pretty impressed with how responsible people are being with printing.”
Jordahl, as an elementary education major, has certain things she has to print for her classes. Currently, Jordahl is student teaching, so she has to print lesson plans for every lesson that she teaches. She teaches four to five lessons a day and each lesson is anywhere from three to five pages long, which adds up to about 15 pages that she has to print every single day.
“When you print a couple pages each time, you don’t really think that it adds up, but once you actually watch it add up, it’s pretty devastating,” Jordahl said.
Even Hill recognized that there is a need for printing paper in a college atmosphere. She is more concerned that the college is not printing on recycled paper.
“Every single sheet of paper that is used on campus is virgin paper; it comes from a tree. It has not been recycled, it is not a sustainable source that it’s coming from. My main focus would be to switch to recycled paper or tree free paper, because there is really no reason to be using 100 percent virgin paper in 2015.”
Hill would like the college to switch to Treefrog Tree-Free paper, which the TreeFrog company makes from the waste product of sugarcane that would otherwise be landfilled or burned.
“It is 100 percent recyclable, 100 percent biodegradable, compostable, tree-free, no chlorine paper,” Hill said. “And it is about the same cost as 30 percent recycled paper is running, which is affordable for the college.”
While this process of converting to more sustainable paper is still in its beginning stages, Hill hopes that it will be in effect within a year or so.
“Anything within the college realm is — we say it’s like a big barge; to turn it takes a very long time,” Hill said. “I think that there is a social obligation for us to switch off of tree paper.”
Despite future changes and improvements to printing, Vieweg considers current printing levels reasonable.
“I feel very good about how we are managing printing and how students are using it. I really have zero complaints, myself,” Vieweg said.
With the implementation of Uniprint and more of its features, printing has decreased, but there is always room for improvement, especially among majors that have large printing needs.
“It’s been interesting to me that each time we make an adjustment, there is a reaction, a greater awareness,” Vieweg said. “They’ll think then, ‘Do I really need to print that?”