For the past year, I’ve hosted a radio on SheridanLife Radio called Bruins All Access. I’ve always made notes about the latest results from the Sheridan Bruins varsity teams and printed them. I discovered recently that I am unable to print them, or anything else for that matter, at Sheridan because I’ve run out of the $5.00 that I started my program with. Since then, I’ve sent my show notes to myself via email, and loaded them up on my phone to refer to during my show.
Printers at Sheridan College have been a hot topic of discussion since the current PaperCut system was implemented at the newly-opened Hazel McCallion Campus (HMC) in May 2011. Prior to this, the setup was quite different.
John Barber, Davis Campus IT Manager, remembers how it used to be.
“Printers were not in every room, but they were in pretty much every classroom,” he said.
Barker said the old system was decentralized, as the person releasing a print request was tied to the printer in that room. Because of this, anyone could take a print release. As well as potential theft, lots of print releases went unclaimed by the time the transition to the PaperCut system started. The transition process took three years.
The PaperCut system require a $0.05 charge per page, and each student is given a one-time $5.00 balance at the start of their studies. Conversely, the printers can scan existing paper documents to email free of charge. Sheridan charges less than most colleges throughout the GTA. Public printing services provided by businesses like Staples charge different rates, depending on the size of each job. For a same-day printing project that is less than 500 pages, Staples charges $0.16 per page.
There has been disagreement from some people about the printing charges, but the IT department claims that no profit is made.
“We’re looking at more of a net-zero result,” said Kathleen McAndrew, Sheridan’s Director of IT Services.
The $0.05 per page charge covers the overall maintenance of the printers by Sheridan IT staff, as well as the contracts that Sheridan signs with external companies to provide the printers and top up any printing supplies.
Despite the dissent from some, others do not seem troubled by the fees. Out of 20 random students I surveyed at Trafalgar Campus, all of them expressed either support for the printing fees, or indifference.
“I imagine for someone whose program requires more paper than mine, it would be a problem,” said Sheridan student, Andrew McClare.
The PaperCut system is much more versatile than the old setup, as it allows single and double-sided printing options. That said, there are things that can improve the printers across all three campuses.
Greyscale printing is available at all three campuses, but colour printing is only available at HMC. Making colour printing available at all three campuses should be the first step to making printers more accessible.
Another area of improvement is the initial balance granted to Sheridan students’ OneCards. Raising the initial one-time grant to $10.00 or even $20.00 will allow students like me to print more paper should they need it.
Yes, printing more paper does negatively impact one’s carbon footprint, but some people might need a physical copy of a project, report, or an essay.
Printing at Sheridan has come a long way since 2011. But there’s always room for improvement.
It’s John Barber not John Barker