MSA supports U’s move to cut costs by eliminating some printed material

by Emily Ayshford

The Minnesota Student Association supported a University initiative to eliminate printed billing, registration and directory materials in a resolution Tuesday.

Vice Provost Craig Swan said the University plans to discontinue printed materials – including the Course Guide, Class Schedule, Undergraduate Student Catalog and Student-Staff Directory – and publish them strictly online. The University also plans to eliminate paper billing statements in lieu of an online system.

Swan said he was in contact with MSA and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly to make sure students had input on the initiative.

Swan said the University has considered plans like this for the past two to three years.

The University would save an estimated $100,000 by offering these materials in an online format only.

Members of MSA were concerned with the availability of these materials to people who were unable to access the Internet or to first-year students registering at orientation.

“We’d have to make alternative formats for those students,” Swan said.

The resolution also recommends the University improve current online services to meet the demand the discontinuation of printed versions of these materials would bring.

“Our big concern is that OneStop is so slow when students register,” said Micah Johnson, chairman of the MSA Academics and Services Committee.

Swan said he did not think that would be a problem. He said the Course Guide and Class Schedule did not need to be password-protected, and the system is not busy when students are just looking at these materials.

Both MSA President Josh Colburn and Swan said online versions of the Course Guide would allow officials to update the material continuously.

“In the Class Schedule, there are innumerable changes, so you always have to check back,” Swan said.

Although he did not know how much the University would save with electronic billing statements, Swan said the University is facing significant budget challenges.

“We are going to be looking for savings everywhere,” Swan said.

In the State of the University address, President Robert Bruininks explained how the University is saving money by eliminating paperwork. He said the paperless student financial aid system saves 700,000 pieces of paper each year and approximately $250,000 in costs.

In the address, Bruininks also said the University’s recent move to online pay statements saves the institution an estimated $150,000 a year.

The University hopes to have all materials but billing online by spring 2004, Swan said.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]