Letter to the Editor: Rising textbook prices require support of Open Educational Resources

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College today is far more expensive than it was in decades prior. When our state college was founded, the state pitched in a much higher percentage of the overall costs. Now there is much more of a burden placed upon the individual student. This should concern us all. How do we ensure that the Grand Valley experience is accessible to all?

One may feel hopeless when faced with a challenge as great as this. However, this is a time to work more collaboratively to better serve all students. This can be done with an intentional and university-wide strategic commitment to Open Educational Resources (OER). 

According to a study conducted in Fall 2019 by the University Libraries, the average Laker pays approximately $330 per semester on textbooks. The percentage of students who have skipped buying or renting a course textbook: 78%. And of those students, 95% were concerned about their grade in the course. 

Students are struggling and are painfully aware that their financial situation may not set them up for success. It is up to us to change that.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, the University Libraries, Student Senate and many campus partners are hosting the Open GVSU Symposium in addition to other events throughout the week to help our entire community learn more about this issue that our community faces. 

Whether you are an OER expert and advocate or this is the first you have heard of this issue, we encourage you to reach out to the Student Senate and your department’s library liaison to learn about OER efforts in your college and how the University Libraries and Student Senate can partner with you to make a difference for your fellow Lakers. 

Of those GVSU students polled, 56% of respondents said they would buy groceries and healthier food if their textbook burden was reduced. Let this serve as our rallying call to help build a Grand Valley that is more accessible to all of our students, current and future.

Eric-John Szczepaniak

President, GVSU Student Senate

Autumn Mueller

Vice President for Educational Affairs