Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

Seattle University's student newspaper since 1933

The Spectator

The SU Paper Shortage: An Epidemic

    Fun Fact: It is speculated that Seattle University goes through tens of thousands of sheets of paper per week. Sometimes, it only takes half a week.

    Okay so maybe that tidbit isn’t exactly fun, per se, but it is a legitimate hypothesis nonetheless. And it poses several problems.

    It’s no secret that this has been a longstanding issue amongst residents. Keegan Tasker, a Resident Assistant on the 12th floor of Campion Residence Hall, said that almost every time she tries to use the printer, there is no paper.

    “It’s always frustrating because you’ll go to print something before class and you’ll think you’ve given yourself enough time, and then everything’s messed up,” said Tasker.

    So when the paper deliverywoman told Tasker one evening that it had been the second time in one week she had delivered paper to the building, things began to add up. According to her, with every delivery she brings an entire box of paper—around 36,000 sheets—and with every delivery she grows irritated over the fact that often, they’re needed more than once a week.

    And Campion isn’t the only dorm with this problem. Kamalei Castillo, a Desk Assistant in Bellarmine Hall, is no stranger to the paper shortage.

    “I get people asking for paper all the time, but sometimes we won’t have any extra and we’ll have to call IT,” said Castillo. “But it’s about once a week that I see someone coming in and delivering more paper.”

    Yes, the printers are often lacking paper, but the issue isn’t that the trays are refilled in a timely manner. It’s that students are using it up at an incredible speed.

    So, where is all this paper going? There are several explanations for the high demand for paper. On one hand, Tasker speculates that—at least among her Campion residents—people with personal computers are stealing reams of paper and then bringing them into their room.

    “I know students get an allotted amount of prints, and our number of prints definitely doesn’t add up to 36,000. So hoarding makes sense,” Tasker said.

    The other issue at hand, however, may be due in part to the large amounts of paper students are required to print for class. Law Student Catherine Carrico regularly has to print off around 50 page articles in class, often only to be used once.

    “I get that [professors] don’t want to print it themselves because that’s a lot of paper for them, but putting it on the students leads to the same result anyway and a lot is going to waste for a one time use,” said Carrico.

    The excessive use of all this paper—whether it comes from hoarding or printing—may not be sustainable. Is it possible that Seattle U, a university that prides itself in environmental justice and sustainability, could be falling short when it comes to living up to that mission?

    Between the expenses of ordering reams upon reams of paper multiple times per week and the level to which students are using it up, this may very well be the case.

    “So we’re spending all this money on buying all this paper and then by hoarding it and printing [it] all, it’s just not sustainable,” Tasker said.

    To combat this, students are advocating an emphasis on electronic submissions. Many say that methods like Canvas, drop-boxes and even email to submit work would be more efficient and reduce the paper usage.
    “I think it would be more efficient, because I just remember when I was an undergrad and I printed so much stuff for a paragraph but then didn’t use it again,” Carrico said.

    However some professors aren’t on board, or in some cases, aren’t even aware of Canvas and other forms of electronic submission.

    “A lot of my teachers are so old fashioned that a lot of them just aren’t on the technological radar,”
    Castillo said.

    As for the students potentially stealing stacks of paper, Tasker proposed that the Resident Halls Association (RHA) could add a note to Potty Publications, which are newsletters distributed to the back of bathroom doors. They include crossword puzzles, articles and advertisements to read, and are a wide-reaching publication.

    What would Tasker put in that blurb? The message is simple: “Dear everyone, please stop taking all the paper.”

    Editor may be reached at
    [email protected]

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