Student senate working to reduce textbook prices

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
Students discuss topics in their small groups at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Students discuss topics in their small groups at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

Sarah Hollis

Grand Valley State University’s student senate continued to work on promoting inclusion and decreasing student expenses at the general assembly on Thursday, Feb. 1. 

This week, the senators announced that they are working to get approval for a task force that would create a grant for GVSU professors. The grant would be tailored to help decrease what students are paying for textbooks. 

“The Student Government Resource Center—it’s a nation-wide group that just works with student governments—they called, and we had this idea a little earlier in the semester but weren’t really sure how to go with it,” said Eric-John Szczepaniak, chair of the educational affairs committee. “They said we’ve done this same thing at dozens of universities across the country, most recently at the University of Pittsburgh. The student senate, or the student government there, passed a resolution for their university to make a university-standing committee that would figure out all the logistics of this grant.”

Szczepaniak further explained the logistics of the committee.

“This committee would build a grant that is for teachers that swap over to open textbooks, like OpenStax, or a widely used publisher,” he said. “All that means is these books are either available online or for much cheaper than current textbooks because they’re not published through a company like Pearson. They’re published openly, and there’s professors and folks that actually take the time to write these and then share them publicly so that they’re super easy and accessible for all sorts of people.”

The senate is just beginning to work on creating a committee to work on this grant, so there is no estimated time frame or guarantee that it will happen at this time. 

While the textbook grant would go far to improve all students’ experiences at GVSU, student senate is also working to improve transfer students’ experiences at the university. They have created a survey to help them better accomplish this task. 

“I feel like a lot of times we leave out resources to transfer students,” said senator Rachel Ibarra. “A lot of students don’t feel welcome completely on campus.” 

Receiving this feedback is an important first step for the senate to help transfer students, so it’s important for them to participate in the survey. 

Transfer students interested in taking the survey can contact any members of student senate or email Ibarra at [email protected]

In addition to helping transfer students feel at home at GVSU, the student senate hopes to promote inclusion at GVSU by including their pronouns on their name plates. 

“When we went to Oakland, I said, ‘We want to be inclusive. How can we do this?’” Ibarra said. “And this (adding pronouns to the placards) is an easy way to show inclusion. It’s low-cost and really easy. I’ve heard that somebody tried to do it in the past and it didn’t go through, so I just pushed for it. They’re supposed to be done next week.” 

GVSU’s student senate meets on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m. in the Kirkhof Center Pere Marquette Room.