Students without books for weeks due to new policy

By Alex Crozier

Starting this semester Quincy University changed how students receive their textbooks. The cost would be added to tuition and the school bookstore would supply the books for the students. But many students are waiting for books a month into classes.

The rollout of the new system didn’t go as planned, which is somewhat to be expected. The scale of preordering books for over a thousand students is bound to come with hiccups. But when some students are in their 7th or 8th session of class without a textbook it impacts everyone.

Teachers need to either slow down or try to supply students without books the materials themselves. Teachers will still take the cons of the new system over the old, which would sometimes have students without a book for the entire semester.

The bookstore couldn’t have planned for some of the issues they faced with this rollout. They note publisher shortages and unpredictable students. Some students also don’t get enrolled for classes until right before the beginning the of the semester and are then expecting books quickly.

Should these students be responsible for getting the books on their own? What if the late registration wasn’t their fault? Where should the cost of books come from in this situation?

What students think

Quincy University student, and bookstore policy guinea pig, Micah Wheeler, was one of the students who had issues getting his books.

“The bookstore did not have all the books that I needed and if I needed a book they told me to wait,” Wheeler said.

This is a common sentiment from students. The bookstore was stuck waiting on books to come in many situations. But even with all of the set-backs Wheeler had this semester he still sees the changes as an improvement.

“I do prefer this method and I understand that it is a new way if making sure we have all the books we need without having to jump through the hoops ourselves but it is getting bothersome,” Wheeler said.

What teachers think

Just as students have been affected, teachers also feel the change this semester. It offered something that many teachers used to not be able to depend on; every student in their class having the book.

When students were left to get the book for themselves some would go the entire semester without getting a copy for themselves. This could be because they couldn’t afford the book, they would borrow a copy from a friend after class, they felt that they could make it through without the book, or any number of reasons.

Bags of books wait to be picked up by students (four weeks into class).

Some books that have arrived have not been picked up.

To counteract this mentality, and to save their students some money, teachers would sometimes not require a book for their classes. Some stuck with an older edition for years to help their students.

That changed since every student would now have no excuse for not having their books. If you were in class, you had already paid for your books. Students who said they were waiting on Amazon to send their books wouldn’t count anymore.

That excuse is now, ‘I’m waiting on the bookstore.’ Teachers are forced to alter their classes to try and support students with good intentions who do not have class materials up to four weeks in.

What the bookstore thinks

It is easy to make the QU Bookstore a punching bag in this situation. But it wouldn’t be fair to assign blame without knowing what is going on behind that two computer desk under the Caf.

Manager Ben Means is the bookstore manager. Means says the changes in the QU Includette program affected him from previous years.

“Obviously we had an increase in orders,” Means said.

Many teachers who had not required a book for their classes, art teachers for example, were now signing up for one. Whether or not a book was necessary, the program would improve the number of students with books.

“The average statistic across the entire country is that 70% of students didn’t get all of their textbooks. And that’s one of the motivating factors that kicked off this whole idea of QU using Includette to make sure everyone has the books they need by day one,” Means said.

The system has not worked for many though.

“As we know, we’re now four weeks in and there are still some students still coming in to pick up their books,” Means said.

Precautions were made to try and keep the store from being overwhelmed. Means said he doubled the staff during rush season and weeks before the semester started to help process orders.

But the issues that kept many students from getting their books on time was not due to understaffing.

“When we went to place the order originally we designed it to be two weeks before classes started. Computer system issues did delay the release of the original order that pushed through, by about four days. Which is still fine, there are some campuses that do it in one week,” Means said. “The second issue though is the late student registration and course changes. That is what I think affected us the most.”

The bookstore further tried to prepare for this issue by over ordering books.

“If there’s a class that has 5 people in it and they normally run 10, we set the books we needed to about 12.”

This didn’t work in all cases though.

“When students jumped into a class or switched they didn’t return the books. That shorted us,” Means said.

The first semester was a learning process.

“We’ve been through it now. One of the best things is that the inventory is already here. So for a lot of these professors they use the same books. If students are all returning their books like they’re supposed to, by the end of the semester we should have the inventory we need to turn around and fill the orders for Spring,” Means said.

Means says requests for the new editions of books could repeat the issues student’s faced this semester.

“We ran out of a book for the English 111 and 112 classes, because the publisher themselves ran out of the book,” Means said. “There are some things that even if the bookstore or QU does everything right, the publisher is still the one we are sourcing our product from, and if they make a mistake like that there is nothing we can do.”

Students are urged to return books at the end of the semester or right after dropping a class since students could still be waiting for a book.

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One comment

  • I suggest that Follett negotiate with publishers to offer immediate digital access to any text that can’t be supplied in print form to a student at the beginning of the semester. That access can always be cancelled when the print version is received by the student, and no one would lose money or time in the process. As a major vendor, Follett should have substantial clout with textbook publishers to make such a deal. Once one agrees, the others will have no choice but to follow.

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