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Printing services to expand over summer

Catherine Anderson uses the Student Government Computer Services (SGCS) lab in the Marshall Student Center (MSC) every day, but said she wishes there were more convenient options on campus.

“(I wish) the Library had free printers,” Anderson, a sophomore majoring in dance, said. “(I wish the computer lab in the MSC) was open later. There are certain times of the day that the lines are really long.”

Anderson, and other USF students, may see these wishes realized during the summer.

Student Government (SG) Chief of Staff Ken Getty said SG is working to expand printing options.

“A lot of services at USF are really confusing and you’re torn in all these different directions,” he said. “The ultimate goal is to streamline our services and enhance what students have now.”

Getty said there would be free printing services available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering the ability to use a laptop to send a file to any on-campus printer and print “within seconds.”

He said those changes have been a part of a yearlong printing initiative since April 2010 when he entered the SG administration, and he hopes to see printing services expand beyond the MSC as well.

SG Computer Services Director Kavish Patel said the purchase of the new printers is being approved by the Information Technology center on campus – a process that has taken two semesters of USF administrative meetings.

Patel said he believes the changes are feasible and something students can expect to see this summer.

“My staff is clearly capable of implementing a system like that,” Patel said. “However, these changes will be seen after the more basic changes are implemented.”

In summer 2010, SGCS consulted with Xerox and Ricoh USA, which offered plans that Patel said would cut their costs in half.

“It can improve the cost and give us better technology,” he said. “The wear and tear on the printers has been continuous. One printer has had its roller kits replaced four times. Replacing parts on them can be more costly (than buying a new printer).”

Getty said SGCS, which allows students to print up to 40 free sheets of paper per day, 14 of which may be in color, will have made 7.5 million free prints this fiscal year alone.

Patel said the computer lab, which currently uses Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers, is incurring costs of seven-tenths of a cent per black-and-white printout and 24 cents per color printout.

However, the policy is not an efficient one, Getty said

“Our current model will never reach an economy of scale,” Getty said. “We currently print 6 million black-and-white prints and 1.5 million color prints, which cost as much as black-and-white prints. Even as prints increase, that number will never balance.”

Patel said switching to Xerox and Ricoh, which offer maintenance services – not currently offered by HP – and fixed toner and ink costs, would decrease prices for each printout.

Getty said he travelled to seven other campuses, including the University of Washington (UW) and University of California at Los Angeles, to see which model would best suit USF.

“We really started investigating the possibility of having a stand-alone print center on campus,” Getty said. “Really after investigating how that model would work at USF, we determined that it would not be feasible to have a revenue-generating, for-profit print center.”

Getty said that the model he hopes USF will adopt is most similar to a model found at UW, where students can print from their laptop to an on-campus printer. Getty said SG will maintain free printouts at USF with the new services, but the maximum may change.

“We would vastly increase services (to students) with scanning, faxing and copying, and it would not cost any more to Student Government,” he said.

Getty and Patel, who plan to graduate in May and August respectively, hope to see the changes implemented before they leave the school.

“(We) hope to start testing (the new systems) in the summer when less students are on campus and we can experiment,” Patel said.

Getty said the model is one conducive to the lifestyles of USF students like Anderson.

“We are creating a printing system that is reflective of the dynamic students on this campus,” he said. “Students can be on the go and still be able to access better printing services.”