Faculty Senate discusses changes to Textbook Rental policy

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

The Faculty Senate discussed revisions to the internal governing policy for Textbook Rental and voted to put proposed changes to the Senate Constitution on the election ballot for faculty to vote on.

Jeff Stowell, the co-chair of the Senate and member of the Textbook Rental Advisory Committee, said there are over 100 internal governing policies for Eastern, and textbook rental falls under No. 49.

There are three proposed changes to the policy, one of which determines that Textbook Rental will no longer be purchasing any online supplementary materials (also defined as online access codes) for courses.

This means that if a professor uses any textbook publisher that has a student companion website with activities, Textbook Rental will not pay for that.

“When you look at the budget, those online access codes are where the cost is dramatically increasing over the past year by 16 percent,” Stowell said. “This semester we’re expected to spend $133,000 on these online access codes.”

Stowell said if instructors want to have those supplemental materials as a part of their courses, they would either have to ask students to purchase them or justify it as a course fee.

But, this can be expense, Stowell said.

Textbook Rental is not over budget, however Stowell said the reason this topic (IGP 49) was brought to the table is because the cost of online access codes is increasing, and that is pinching the budget.

The majority of the budget for Textbook Rental comes from student fees, which is $9.75 a credit hour.

So, for a student taking 15 credit hours, that would be a total of $146.25 per semester, $292.50 a year.

Textbook Rental also receives dollars from textbook sales, textbook late fees and a facility fee.

Eastern’s Provost Jay Gatrell said in the current IGP, it explicitly excludes electronic supplements.

Stowell said essentially they are enforcing the existing policy that online access codes are considered supplementary materials, which Textbook Rental will not purchase.

The second change is the length of the adoption cycle for textbooks from two years or three semesters to three years or four semesters, and the third change is adding a member from the library faculty to the Textbook Rental Advisory Board Committee.

There is also a plan to create a task force committee to help identify future needs for Textbook Rental such as renting digital textbooks and how that could affect the current model.

Todd Bruns, the Senate chair, said senators will discuss the topic more at the next meeting on March 5.

Lynette Drake, the interim vice president of student affairs, will approve the revisions once it reaches her desk.

The last time a revision was approved was in 2014.

There are seven changes to the Senate Constitution that will be added to the election ballot.

These changes include changes in the preamble to articulate the relationship between Faculty Senate and other shared governance committees on campus and granting the major committees authority to limit particular seats and the electorate for those seats to faculty from particular academic units or areas to ensure balanced representation without asking the Senate for approval (section 6, d of the Senate Constitution.)

It was also announced that it would not be possible for only Unit B, Annually Contracted Faculty members to vote for the Unit B Senate seat as it was originally intended after the last Senate meeting.

Senate members voted to create this dedicated seat for ACFs during a Feb. 5 meeting, and they agreed that the position will be a three-year term with all ACFs voting in the Senate election for that person to fill that seat.

This is no longer the case because of how the voting system is set up.

“In the voting file that I submit to (Information Technology Services), it’s set up that we can vote by college, so if somebody is running for the college of education spot on Faculty Senate, then the people from the College of Education vote for that person,” Stowell said.

But Stowell said to do that, each voter needs to be assigned to a group that is categorized by college, and he said that works just fine for the four colleges and the library.

“But if you only want Unit B Faculty (ACFs), if you only want them to vote for a position, that requires a second grouping variable,” Stowell said.

He said this is because any of the ACFs running for the Senate seat could be in any of the colleges.

“So how do you separate them? There would have to be another designation, and the problem is the programming cannot accommodate that right now,” Stowell said.

The Senate decided that the best way to solve the problem for now is to allow Unit A and annually contracted Unit B faculty members to vote for Senate positions representing their respected college.

There are also several at-large positions up for election that anyone can run for and anyone can vote for.

Stowell also clarified that technically any annually contracted faculty member can serve on the Senate but the Senate voted to give these Unit B faculty members a seat of their own.

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].