Cost of printing outweighs benefits

The University wastes money, paper and staff hours printing and distributing plan.

Today, I received a copy of the University’s Strategic Plan Progress Report from the Office of the President, and I have a question: Why?

I don’t mean “why is there a strategic plan and why would I care?” That’s obvious. But what is not obvious is why the University is wasting money printing booklets that few read.

If you haven’t seen a copy of this “Strategic Plan” booklet, it’s actually quite attractive. It’s printed in color on heavy paper. (I am no paper expert, but it’s the nice kind of paper that is textured and heavy, and it doesn’t take a printing expert to know that color costs more than black and white.)

Do the people who made the decision to waste money, paper and staff hours (to write, edit, layout, print, stuff and mail the booklets, not to mention the cost of postage) know that people have computers and can read this kind of report online if they really want to?

This isn’t the only waste of paper (read: money) that is rampant on this campus. At Graduate School Orientation, we were given multiple copies of booklets and guides and flyers – all campus information that is available online. Not only is the information easily accessible online – it’s more accessible online. For instance, if I actually need any of the information they gave us at orientation, I would have to find the stack of paper and then leaf through it all. Who has time for that? And last time I checked this wasn’t 1980. Do they think we actually have filing cabinets and rolodexes too?

Honestly, I am interested in the Strategic Plan. The goal of becoming one of the top-three public research universities in the world is pretty exciting and makes me glad I decided to come here (despite the weather). However, I would rather read about it online at http://www1.umn.edu/pres/ where I can also watch video clips of Bob Bruininks talking about the plan. In fact, that is more interesting to me than reading the plan anyway – and less expensive to produce than this printing.

I can see why printing important information would be prudent if there was a lack of computer access. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at the University. Of course, I could be wrong. However, if there is indeed a lack of computer accessibility, perhaps the money spent on printing the Strategic Plan would be spent more wisely on accessibility issues.

Molly Thompson is a University graduate student. Please send comments to [email protected]