In an effort to better address college affordability, Student Government is recommending an alternative textbook solution through the use of open source textbooks and other Open Educational Resources.
A resolution — which was added to the agenda during the senate's Wednesday meeting — was debated for roughly 45 minutes on Open Educational Resources, where the senate inevitably waived second read on the legislation but postponed a decision on the bill until next week.
Typically, legislation is read as new business one week and debated and voted on the next week.
“Student Government recommends that professors and instructors utilize Open Education Resources, thus making it more feasible for students to obtain full access to course materials,” according to the resolution.
Sponsored by Sen. Sam Rankin, some senators were concerned that by making a decision on the recommendation during Wednesday’s meeting, it would be rushed, for no particular reason.
For Sen. Chelsea Eret, she would have liked to bring the legislation to her constituency council before debating it in senate.
“I think this could be such a great thing for the university, would like to see it done the right away as opposed to the fast way,” Eret said.
Rankin said part of the reason he wanted to waive second read on the legislation was so he could invite library Dean Beth McNeil to talk on open source textbooks, as she will be unavailable during next week’s meeting.
Rankin said if the second read was waived, he would be fine with postponing the vote to next week.
“I’d be happy tabling it, but I think we need to have a real discussion on it as a whole so we can have it be more than words on a page,” he said.
While the legislation was ultimately waived and postponed to next week, the senate did have a reasonable discussion on the legislation where several amendments were made.
These include adding President-select Wendy Wintersteen to the list of administrators that will be sent the recommendation and adding Illinois Congressman Jim Durkin who has worked on legislation regarding Open Educational Resources at a federal level.
Should the resolution pass next week — in addition to its recommendation for open source textbooks to be used at Iowa State — it also shows Student Government’s support for the Affordable College Textbook Act currently in Congress.
During debate on the resolution, Rankin provided statistics provided by the library regarding student use of textbooks which looked at how often students use books they buy or if they choose to even buy them in the first place.
According to the statistics, six students reported pirating textbooks.
“Six students risked a $25,000 fine and a year in prison to go to school,” Rankin said. “I really think that this is something we need to look at — if kids are risking that, we need to do something to help.”
Ultimately, many senators agreed this is legislation they would back, but would appreciate additional time in speaking with their constituents. The bill will be re-discussed at next week’s meeting.
Additionally, Student Government funded “Break the Silence” posters to be put across campus, Best Buddies to go on an organization trip to the Center Grove Apple Orchard and food for the next Student Government town hall.
The senate also adopted a new logo and a struck a bylaw stating funding can only be considered during the first senate meeting of each month.