Students Adjust to New Printing System on Campus

Kristopher Fraser

For the past several years, Oberlin students have grown accustomed to the Pharos-Uniprint system. Under this system, students sent their docu- ments to the printer, swiped their identification cards at the corresponding print station and selected their desired document. As of the 2013-2014 school year, the old Pharos-Uniprint regime has been replaced by a new program called PaperCut.

With the new PaperCut system, students hit print on their computers, type in their username and password and the documents print automatically, thereby eliminating any card swiping.

In recent weeks, students have identified myriad problems with this new system, including having to print documents twice. Often, because documents don’t seem to reach the printer, students are forced to reprint and are subsequently charged multiple times.

“I’ve been having a hard time figuring out where my print quota is,” College senior Kaylee Holt said, “I’ve sent things to the printer and they don’t print. You’ve wasted credit and [your papers are] not printed … I don’t see the point of eliminating the card swiping.” She added, “I’d rather just have my ID with me and avoid all these other weird problems.”

The College decided to im- plement new printing technol- ogy last year. After a five-year Pharos regime, the Center for Information Technology decided that an update was in order. “It was time to evaluate,” said CIT employee Chester Andrews of the upgrade. “Computer hardware gets old [and] needs to be replaced … it was time to think about something else.”

According to Andrews, the new system is more cost effective for the College. It costs about half as much as the old system and students still receive their $40 per semester print quota. Yet their quota notwithstanding, some students find the new system more costly.

College senior Sarah Cole said, “the system [has become more expensive to me].” And while it is possible to ask for a refund, Cole noted that she is “afraid to ask for help with these problems.” Holt agreed. “It’s not worth the hassle to get my 10 cents a page back.”

Andrews, who was involved with PaperCut’s implementa- tion, explained, “[The card swiping] was eliminated because we found it to be a positive thing, [and] more desirable, [because] it reduced the number of machines we have to maintain.” In other words, fewer machines potentially yield fewer problems. “There were periods of frustration even with the older system,” Andrews said in response to the mention of printing angst. “But with a little bit of time we can work out any issues [we have.] ”

Andrews said that CIT intends to remedy these issues. “We are aware of some problems and issues, we are working to work those out.” According to Andrews, some 200,000 pages have been successfully printed since Aug. 18, and opportunities for refunds abound: Every student can request a refund for their account, or by clicking on the PaperCut links on their lab computer. “We’ve been granting refunds in nearly every case,” Andrews explained. “You have an opportunity to explain why you didn’t get your printout. We are really very happy to grant [refunds] as we are working through the bugs.”

Andrews, while cognizant of student frustration, said he was hopeful that “within the next week or two or so we’ll have all the bugs in the system worked out.”