Patrick Spoor: Make college textbooks more affordable

Published: 2/21/2021 6:00:15 PM

Us college students around the Five Colleges are all made well aware of the stark price of our education every semester when we have to buy textbooks.

Whether they be $80 access codes to let us submit math homework or the newest edition of an economics textbook that costs $200, more than the usual one, our reality is clear. Textbooks are way too expensive.

I used to be a math major at Amherst, and a major source of stress for up-and-coming mathematicians is the prospect of “Comps,” or the Comprehensive Math Exam. Imagine trying to study five to six classes worth of dense material without being able to use textbooks you couldn’t afford to buy in the first place. You better hope you took detailed notes.

The worst part about this situation is that it could have been easily preventable. We need to implement Open Educational Resources. UMass already began an OER initiative years ago; Scott Merzbach reported in the Gazette in February 2015 that UMass students have “already saved an estimated $1 million in textbook expenses” between 2011-2015. With an investment of just $39,000, UMass students have saved over 25 times that amount in those four years.

Professors are encouraged to apply for grant money to switch their classes to open resources. I urge the other four colleges to consider following in UMass’s successful footsteps and consider educational accessibility a higher priority for their students, especially during a pandemic where shilling out money on textbooks is the least of our concerns.

Patrick Spoor

Douglasville, Georgia




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