SGA textbook rental proposal fails
The Student Government Association’s proposed resolution to support the administration and auxiliary services’s textbook rental program failed at their meeting Tuesday.
The proposal was discussed for 45 minutes of the two hours the SGA met, their longest meeting of the year. The SGA debated the pros and cons of the rental program, which included a fixed price between $45 and $60 per class every semester to be paid by students. The fee would cover all textbook requirements, even if more than one textbook was needed for a class, not including workbooks or lab books.
Students would not have to pay a fee in classes that do not require a book. If a student wanted to keep a book longer than the semester it is rented for, they could purchase the book for its retail price, excluding the already-paid fee.
Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Joe Oster said the program came from a desire to decrease textbook costs for students.
“Assuming that you buy all of your textbooks [now], it probably saves a student between two and four thousand dollars over the course of that four or five years,” he said.
SGA President Nicole Kazanecki said the University Store has been looking into the proposed rental program for several years.
The store put together this model and introduced it during the first SGA meeting of the spring semester.
The SGA researched the possibility of the program and surveyed students via email and on campus in the last few weeks, receiving the opinions of 487 participants. Of those participants, 56.26 percent said they either supported or strongly supported the program.
Figures given by SGA Senator Ryan Fredriksson showed that one percent of colleges and universities across the country offer textbook rental programs, and that only 33 percent of that one percent mandate their program. Fredricksson said he hoped these figures represented the option of a non-mandatory rental program.
“I think a lot of us would be in full support of a program if it wasn’t mandatory,” SGA senator Emily Graf said.
Oster ruled out an optional program, saying that it did not work with the current model.
Kazanecki said the proposed prices depended on a mandatory program.
“We’d love it if it was optional, but it would never be $40 to $60 per class,” she said.
Senators also expressed concern toward the fate of local retailers like Towson Book Exchange or BookHolders under the new program.
“There’s no hiding that the community and the University have a strained relation. We can’t build relations with the community if we’re shutting down businesses,” Fredricksson said.
Senator Rob Cockey disagreed, citing the savings for TU students.
“You can’t think about the 20 people that work at those places when it’s saving thousands of students money,” he said.
Junior Victoria Hawkins expressed concern over the lack of information available to students and requested the proposal be tabled until more information was available.
Hawkins took part in the SGA survey and surveyed other students independently when she became intrigued with the proposal.
Oster said the proposal had already been presented to the Dean’s Council and the provost and would go to the Council of Chairs following the SGA decision.
The resolution failed with a 14-6 vote. Oster said he would review the opinions of the SGA before taking any further action.
“I will take the information that passed tonight, take it back to my boss, [Vice President for Administration and Finance] Jim Sheehan, and we’ll discuss our possible next steps,” he said.
Hawkins said she was satisfied with the voting.
“I’m really happy with the vote that they came by,” Hawkins said. “I think it definitely reflects the hundreds of students I’ve talked to. So far, I really think it represents the students’ opinion.
SGA senator Caitlin Pomerantz said that the ruling should not affect any future rental plan proposals.
“If we fail this, we’re not saying that we’re never going to have a textbook rental program ever again,” she said. “We’re saying that this particular rental program does not work for us.”