Home News Student Government launches initiative to bring free textbooks to Texas State

Student Government launches initiative to bring free textbooks to Texas State

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Magen Huntley, theater freshman, flips through her future physcology book Aug. 21 at the Textbook Store.
Photo by Hannah Felske

Student Body President Connor Clegg and Vice President Jackie Merritt spent the summer meeting with professors, faculty and administrators to bring open educational resources to Texas State.

Open educational resources, OERs, are teaching and learning materials such as lectures, videos, quizzes and textbooks freely available online for students and professors. The resources are written by faculty and professors across the country.

The Clegg-Merritt administration is proposing legislation in Student Government for at least 10 introductory-level courses to phase in OERs.

The initiative comes from a desire to provide quality resources for Texas State students while reducing the semester-to-semester cost of academic materials.

“We wanted to positively affect the most students we possibly can,” Merritt said. “OERs grant students quality resources and will save students money.”

This initiative allows professors to customize their curriculums with more resources available. Faculty members will be able to use multiple platforms and combine their favorite parts of materials to create their desired curriculums.

Due to the licensing of OERs, professors may pull information and tools from as many resources as they please. Students would have open access to all those resources.

Currently, if a lecturer wanted to use four different resources, a student might have to buy four different books. Professors, who are cost conscious, don’t generally require students to buy more than one textbook, but OERs would allow students and professors to use as many resources the course’s instructor might find necessary, for free.

Clegg and Merritt have met with Gene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of academic affairs, along with Faculty Senate, Alkek Library staff and department chairs to implement open educational resources for the spring 2018 semester. The administration will be meeting with more faculty and staff throughout the fall 2017 semester.

Margarita Arellano, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, said this policy could be expanded on during future administrations because of the potential of growth.

“Every student government leaves a legacy,” Arellano said. “This student government’s initiative is going to help all students. Future administrations will be able to build off their work and this program has the ability to grow.”

“As a representative of the students, to pay anywhere from $200 to $400 for one or two textbooks is unfair,” Clegg said. “With the cost of textbooks being the price they are, students shouldn’t have to choose whether to pay rent or buy a book.”

Different variations of open resources are used at Kansas State, University of Massachusetts, University of Missouri, Trinity University and Rice University.

“I don’t want Texas State to lose students because universities around the state or down the road are saving students money,” Clegg said.

While working on this initiative for free textbooks, the Clegg-Merritt administration is set to focus on other campus issues such as safety, sexual assault and the food industry.

“As the leaders of Student Government, we work for the students,” Clegg said. “These are the types of initiatives Student Government can do. We want to impact the student body in the best possible way.”

Student Government meetings are held every Monday at 7 p.m. on the fourth floor of the LBJ Student Center Teaching Theater.

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