Students and Faculty Agree, Textbooks Are Too Expensive

The fall semester at Santa Monica College will be soon over, and with winter and then the inevitable spring sessions close at hand students are once again thinking about the cost of not only tuition but textbooks as well.

Certain classes don't require any text, or the text can be provided free of charge online or in the classroom directly from the instructor. But still, a portion of SMC students are finding that the required and suggested reading for a course can be worth as much as a few tanks of gas or a roundtrip ticket across the country.

The factors in pricing are bountiful as are the ways of negotiating around them either through buying used books at stores or online, or acquiring an older edition that has the same information as a newer one. However, when it comes time to pony up the cash for these resources, many students find themselves questioning whether or not the instructors for their course considered the cost when assigning them the books in the first place.

Overwhelmingly however members of the student body as well as members of the faculty feel that paying the price for textbooks is an unwelcome but necessary procedure, and that instructors are found to be for the most part, sympathetic to the typically money starved students.

As Professor Jaime Cruz said, "I think professors are aware that books can be expensive and they are generally sensitive to a college student's budget. I am always very keen on the textbooks that I choose for my classes as I make every effort to select books that are not too expensive."

Cruz's insight was supported by Eric Van Campem, a computer science major at SMC who said, "I'd say most teachers I've had are sympathetic."

He added that "they also don't like how much the books cost." Indeed many professors do feel that the prices of textbooks are unnecessarily high, as do many students who find that when publishers release new editions of textbooks they are not releasing much new information at all.

This makes it easier for students to buy older editions for a cheaper price online, but it is not always necessary as Van Campem related about his calculus textbook, "The calculus textbook that the school uses, the first edition was in I think 1991 and it's the same book."

Van Campem stated that the first edition is still the required one for his class, which he thinks is completely logical as he said, "The thing about calculus is it was invented two hundred years ago, they kind of figured it out. The thing about new calculus textbooks is that I mean there are new teaching strategies, but really, come on."

Students and faculty agree that the price of textbooks is a struggle for some, and at times cannot be avoided and is a necessary evil to deal with when trying to survive in the academic world.

Though no one appears to be fond of it, no one is unsympathetic to either party's situation when dealing with the problem.