ISBN numbers aid thrifty students

Undergraduate Senate's resolution will put pressure on campus bookstore.

Money is getting tight and college is still expensive. Any little bit of money saved is a victory for cash strapped students. Thankfully, AU's Undergraduate Senate and the U.S. Senate are keeping students in mind. The Undergraduate Senate passed a resolution Feb. 1 that called for the Campus Store to list textbook ISBN numbers online, making it easier for students to buy books online.

Without an ISBN number students will often order different editions of required books, leading to lost time and money. By refusing to list the ISBN numbers online, the bookstore kept students from buying used books online, and instead forced them to buy new on campus.

The act by the Undergraduate Senate had been preempted by a national law passed in 2008. The Higher Education Act, signed into law by former President George W. Bush, requires all universities to list ISBN numbers online by 2010. The Undergraduate Senate has effectively asked AU's administration "why wait until 2010?" Textbooks are expensive right now. The resolution, which is unfortunately non-binding, nevertheless sends a clear message to the administration that students will no longer stand for shoddy and expensive service at the AU campus bookstore.

The Follett Higher Education Group's contract to run the campus bookstore is ending this June, making this a perfect chance to make the bookstore's policies more student friendly. The Undergraduate Senate's unanimous vote in favor of listing ISBN numbers online is a timely reminder to the administration that students will not settle for the bookstore's expensive status quo.

Thankfully for students it seems that the administration - including President Neil Kerwin - is aware of student's complaints. Kerwin said at a recent meeting with students that their complaints about the bookstore have not gone unheeded. Kerwin also said that Vice President of Finance and Treasurer Don Myers is in the process of evaluating the bookstore's services. Myers is sure to find what students have been dealing with for years: poor student service and overpriced books.

It is extremely important that the administration is not only aware of student complaints, but also actively involved in alleviating them. Follett's contract cannot be renewed automatically. Taking the path of least resistance is not the right move for the students or for the university. Bidding for the contract must be competitive. Companies interested in serving AU's students must be willing to make concessions. Listing ISBN numbers online is one concession that the administration should insist on.

The Undergraduate Senate deserves accolades for lending visibility to this issue. The campus bookstore's inefficiencies are fixable and can be changed. By letting the administration know clearly where students stand, they have no choice but to listen.

In an earlier editorial, The Eagle highlighted many problems students have with the bookstore's service, Now, we implore Kerwin and the rest of the AU administration to listen to the students and their representatives in the Undergraduate Senate. A more efficient AU will not only help students, but also the university and its reputation.

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