Decrease in poster printing options harms students


Surita Basu, Staff Reporter

As gray winter days start to set in, there is always one reliable source of color on campus: posters hang everywhere, from the freshman dorms to the railings of Nord Hall. The posters advertise the myriad of campus organizations and events, to catch the attention of otherwise busy students. 

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult for student organizations to have their events advertised. Previously, poster printing was available in think[box], Kelvin Smith Library (KSL) and the FedEx location at Thwing. Now, KSL and think[box] have changed their policy, prohibiting poster printing and leaving many students at a disadvantage. 

The change in policy has left the FedEx at Thwing as the only on-campus location available for poster printing. 

“In terms of specific effects on the student body, what concerns us in USG a lot is now the only option for poster printing is FedEx in Thwing,” explained Alex Gould, vice president of public relations for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). “With their monopolization of poster printing on campus, they control all pricing, and now the two more affordable poster printing options are not available” 

Many students are unable to pay for posters for their classes or for research presentations like ShowCASE and Intersections. Gould explained that USG has been receiving concerns from students that the change may have created a discriminatory policy for the financially disadvantaged on campus. 

When asked about the change in policy, Ian Charnas, director of innovation and technology at think[box], explained that generally existing services are not discontinued. However, the change was taken because “poster printing did not fit well into [our] mission, and upon review, we discovered that it was an unusually labor and cost intensive service to provide. By discontinuing poster printing at think[box], we can focus more of our time and resources on services, equipment, tools and programs that think[box] alone is uniquely positioned to offer on-campus.”

A similar reasoning was found at KSL, where Vice Provost and University Librarian Arnold Hirshon explained that “after a thorough examination of the functions of the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship, the printing process was not a function that fit into the center’s core mission and purpose. We continue to provide services on how to select, organize and display digital data, but the printing function is better suited to those who are best equipped to provide this as a production service”. 

Charnas expressed awareness of the situation some students were left in, “It’s rare that we need to discontinue a service, and we do sympathize with students affected. Fortunately poster printing is still available in the Student Activities Office and also at the FedEx location in Thwing.”

In both cases, the elimination of poster printing seems to have been collateral damage that resulted from both institutions’ resources and services being overstretched. Poster printing may not fit under the visions of either KSL or think[box], however, it is clear that there is a persistent need for the service to be available to students at an affordable price to support their endeavors in and out of the classroom.