Letter to the Editor: UMN should address course material costs

It’s already a struggle for thousands of students to afford tuition, and ballooning textbook costs are unnecessarily adding to that stress.

Thea Wangsness

This letter to the editor was written in response to a Feb. 13 Minnesota Daily article.

The article “Regents discuss campus safety review; confirm tuition-free program for low-income families” exemplifies an understanding by the University of financial restrictions and a willingness to support students in financial need. This acknowledgment of inequity should continue to shape other University policies, such as course material costs.

I spent about $500 on textbooks this year alone, and that’s getting off easy compared to a lot of other students. Textbooks often cost more than $200 each, sometimes reaching $400. The overall price of textbooks has increased by over 800% in the past 30 years. It’s already a struggle for thousands of students to afford tuition, and ballooning textbook costs are unnecessarily adding to that stress. Nearly half of all students take different or fewer classes because of material costs. Education shouldn’t be a space filled with paywalls and capitalistic exploitation, especially when solutions exist. The University of Minnesota should lead in the national transition to open textbooks and educational equity.

This letter was submitted by Thea Wangsness, a first-year student at the University of Minnesota double-majoring in global studies and sociology.

This letter has been lightly edited for style and clarity.