National protest against textbook prices comes to SOU

The Textbook Rebellion has arrived at Southern Oregon University, making its campus debut Tuesday during a petition drive in the courtyard of the Stevenson Union.

In attendance were two symbols of the campaign; the “Mr. $200 Dollar Textbook” mascot, who represents what students are trying to beat in the rebellion, and the heroic “Textbook Rebel,” who symbolizes what students, faculty, bookstores, and organizations such as the Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) are trying to achieve.

The campaign was started by Student PIRG, an organization that lobbies for the rights of students across the nation.

Oregon Student Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), the Oregon chapter of Student PIRG, has spent close to the last decade working on the issue of overpriced textbooks, researching alternatives for students and faculty so that publisher’s book prices don’t make huge dents in the pockets of students.

“This is a market-based problem because it is the publishers controlling prices, and the consumers (students) need these materials,” said Nicole Allen, a textbook advocate for Student PIRG.

Although SOU students have it easy in comparison to other colleges and universities the campaign has visited, many SOU students feel they spend far too much on textbooks, with many textbooks, especially in the science departments, costing up to $200.

OSPIRG advocates for students to shop around when looking for textbooks, and urges publishers to drop the out-of-control prices being charged.

The SOU Bookstore states that they are dedicated to making textbooks affordable to all students. In 2006 the SOU Faculty Senate endorsed an agreement between OSPIRG and the Bookstore, intended to help mitigate the cost of textbooks for SOU students. Because the Bookstore doesn’t control or set prices on textbooks, they are somewhat limited in what they can do.

One resource to consider when buying from the Bookstore is the Textbook Price Compare on the SOU Bookstore website, which lets students compare prices between new, used, and rental textbooks, as well as other book vendors.

The Bookstore also offers the SOU Student Marketplace, where students can sell back their textbooks to other students.

Another option to help students with textbook prices is the Textbook Share or TextShare program, started in 2003 by Associated Students of Southern Oregon University. The TextShare program buys and puts certain textbooks in the Hannon Library for students to check out. All books over $100 are included in the program, although graduate textbooks are not included. ASSOU has put over 100 books in the library, which are available on a 2-hour reserve basis.

The TextShare program is a great alternative for students who cannot afford to buy a $100 or more book for class.

The Textbook Rebellion pushes for faculty to use lower cost textbooks and use Open Source Textbooks, a program that provides online editions of textbooks free to students in the course. This could potentially reduce textbook costs by 80 percent.

Students are encouraged to sign a petition protesting the issue. To learn more or get involved with the Textbook Rebellion, visit StudentSPIRGS.org/textbooks. 

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