UConnPIRG campaigns to reduce textbook spending

Media Hit | The Daily Campus
Members of PIRG hand out T-shirts on Fairfield way. Students who passed by their table were asked to complete a survey about how much they paid for textbooks this year.  Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus
Members of PIRG hand out T-shirts on Fairfield way. Students who passed by their table were asked to complete a survey about how much they paid for textbooks this year. Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

Amid skyrocketing textbook prices, members of UConnPIRG, University of Connecticut’s chapter of the Public Interest Research Group, are working to convince the university to take measures to reduce student spending on essential course materials. 

 “While I think that every issue that UConnPIRG focuses on is very important, I think that this is one that every student on campus should be talking about,” said Erin McConnell, a fifth-semester applied math and statistics major and one of the campaign’s organizers. “Textbook prices affect everyone because everyone has to buy textbooks one way or another.” 

 In search of up-to-date data on student textbook spending, several UConnPIRG members set up a tent and canopy outside of the Homer Babbidge Library on Tuesday to encourage students to take their textbook affordability survey. 

 “Having current data will […] help us make a stronger case when we lobby legislators about this issue and talk to administration about the importance of price transparency,” said McConnell. 

 Currently, UConnPIRG is requesting that the university make several changes, both large and small, regarding textbooks and class materials. To start, they believe the cost of a class’s required materials should be available to students before they enroll, allowing students to weigh their options with regards to affordability. 

 Additionally, they champion the use of OERs, or Open Educational Resources, a term used to refer to any textbook, lesson plan or other educational resource currently in the public domain. 

 More informally, some students have developed their own strategies for avoiding steep textbook fees. 

 “I’ve learned that if you wait a week or two into the semester, you’ll learn whether or not the textbook is actually required,” said Brandon Jones, a fifth-semester physiology and neurobiology major who took the survey. 

 According to McConnell, some students have even taken to completing all of their homework at the very start of the semester, before the free trial on their access code runs out.  

“That’s just not how it should be,” she says, “I should be able to do my homework whenever I want and not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for it.” 


Nick Smith is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at [email protected]