Students gather to discuss concerns of proposed textbook policy

By: Jordan Taylor

Some Trevecca students want more answers about a proposed policy that will require all students to rent their textbooks from a company that operates the TNU bookstore.

About 30 students met this week to organize a plan for talking to Trevecca officials about the policy after SGA approved the plan last week.

Books Fly Free is a program that will work a textbook fee into tuition. Books are rentals that will be delivered to student dorms and apartments.  Starting with current freshmen, all students would be required to participate and pay $22.50 per credit hour for class-required textbooks.

“[Textbook Dilemma’s purpose is] mainly to raise awareness [on Books Fly Free] and ask questions on the policy,” said Andrea Corzine, an organizer of Textbook Dilemma. “There are positives and negatives to it, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions that we are trying to get answered.”

Darren Campbell, CEO of Tree of Life Bookstores, Inc., met with SGA on Feb. 6 to propose the company’s Books Fly Free program.  Tree of Life was hired last year to operate the Trevecca bookstore.

SGA voted 23-3 to approve the policy on Feb. 13.

Initially, SGA President Riley Wampler said Trevecca administration would approve the plan, if SGA did.

However, in an email to his fellow officers, he said the president’s cabinet will vote on the issue.

“We were obviously all under the impression that our vote for textbooks would be the final say; well, that’s not quite accurate,” he wrote.

Student Government’s endorsement will only serve as a suggestion to the president’s cabinet, who will make the final decision, SGA officials told the student body in a recent email.

Books Fly Free is a new program being piloted at Greenville College this year, where Tree of Life also has a contract to operate the bookstore.

This program would automatically charge $22.50 per credit hour for the rental textbooks of each student each semester. If a student took 12 hours, the student would be billed $270. If a student took 18 hours, they would be billed $405.

The money is added to the students’ accounts and becomes part of their tuition and fees.

Monday’s meeting of the Textbook Dilemma group was a night for asking questions and voicing concerns. The group plans to meet again next week to come up with a more formal plan for communicating their concerns with SGA.

Some of the group’s unanswered questions include classes that do not assign textbooks, internship hours and senior projects.

Students also expressed concern about not having a choice about where to buy their textbooks. Some students said they can buy used books just as cheap or cheaper online and then actually own them at the end of a semester.

In the proposed Books Fly Free program students must return textbooks at the end of the semester or pay replacement costs for the books.

“We want to work together as a team with SGA to make our voices known,” Corzine said.

C.J. Childs, an organizer of Textbook Dilemma, discussed the possibility that SGA had “over-moralized” the issue, turning the proposal into the ethical issue of helping students whose textbooks are more expensive, such as nursing or religion majors.

“You didn’t decide the classes we took so you shouldn’t have to pay for our textbooks,” J.J. Wyzinski, sophomore religion major, said.

SGA officers sent an email to the student body Monday, Feb. 20, that stated student government officials want to hear all feedback and will schedule an informational meeting. Wampler said the meeting will likely be sometime in March.

“The meeting, which is currently being put together, will host representatives from Tree of Life Bookstores, Incorporated and will seek to provide students with all details of the program through a question and answer format,” the email stated. “It should be noted that this meeting will be the official source of feedback for Student Government, and we would encourage all those with questions or concerns to be in attendance.”

Textbook Dilemma was initially founded as a Facebook group that now has more than 200 members. The group will meet again Monday, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. at Abba Java at TNU.


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