New textbook policy aims to safeguard students

Published by adviser, Author: Chris Gordon - Assistant News Editor, Date: October 22, 2015
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Slippery Rock University and the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF) agreed to a new policy regarding the use of self-authored textbooks in the classroom.
The policy, which was agreed to on October 15, requires professors wishing to use commercially available, self-authored textbooks in the classroom to seek written approval from the chair of their department to eliminate conflicts of interest, a university press release read.
If the self-authored text is not available commercially, book price must be based on reasonable production costs only and an electronic version of the text must be donated to Bailey Library and placed on electronic reserve once approval from the professor’s department chair is attained, the press release continued.
Finally, the policy requires that all textbooks be available at the SGA Bookstore.
Philip Way, provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at SRU, said in the press release that the new policy was unanimously supported by the administration and the faculty union and will add to SRU’s reputation as a “best value” institution.
“While the university encourages faculty to engage in scholarship and the creation of innovative teaching materials, the faculty union and the administration recognize that safeguards are needed to ensure students buy books or course materials that are appropriate to the course, accessible through the campus bookstore or library and priced at fair levels,” he said.
Jess Dowd, a junior marketing and Spanish double major, said she agrees with the new policy.
“Just as every person has a bias, every book has a bias too,” she said.  “I hate it when psychology and marketing professors use their own books in class because there are so many different perspectives on those topics.  When a professor uses a book written by someone else, it adds credibility to what they’re teaching.”
Brandon Fuhs, a junior information technology major, said professors who used self-authored textbooks prior to the policy change placed unnecessary expense on their students.
“I had a professor who used a textbook he wrote with a group of people,” he said.  “It turns out the guy only wrote one paragraph of the whole book, yet we had to buy it directly from him and because of that we couldn’t sell it back to the bookstore.”
The policy change is effective immediately, the press release stated.

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