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Free textbooks initiative aims for state legislature

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free textbooks at the bookstore
Students visit the Texas State University Bookstore on Jan. 15 to purchase books and access codes in preparation for the upcoming semester.
Photo by Victor Rodriguez | Multimedia Editor

Last semester, Student Government launched an initiative to bring Open Education Resources to Texas State. Initially scheduled to be implemented spring 2018, the initiative now joins an advocacy group as an agenda for the next state legislative session.

OERs, such as textbooks, study guides, homework and other academic resources, are defined as freely accessible, openly licensed text, media and other digital assets that are utilized for classroom, homework, research and lecture purposes. The initiative was brought before Student Government on first reading, Oct. 9.

Since then, Student Government has worked alongside other student governments in the Texas Student Government Coalition, an advocacy group comprised of 25 Student Governments and represents over 600,000 students. Texas State Student Government plans to advocate for open-source textbooks during the 86th Texas legislative session.

At the coalition’s summit on Nov. 18, representatives from Texas State’s Student Government listed OER programs as their primary focus and managed to get onto the coalition’s four-item agenda. The agenda for the 2019 legislative session.

Student Body President Connor Clegg said working on this piece of legislation is different than working on other campus issues.

“We have had not only students, but faculty ask how they can help advocate for open-source textbooks within their departments,” Clegg said. “Maybe not within my term, but within the year we will see Texas State make school more affordable for a lot of people by cutting the cost of textbooks,”

Clegg said the English department had already done the work of creating an open-source book which would be used by the introductory writing classes that, based on communications between Student Government and the English department. The department would ideally implement the book in the fall semester of 2018.

Clegg called the initiative a suggestion, however, “To faculty and administration, it’s something that the students want and that the Student Government passed unanimously,”

According to the legislation and to the Consumer Price Index, “The price of Textbooks in America rose 88 percent in the past decade.” Between access codes, textbooks, online materials and clickers, the auxiliary cost of attending school is not getting any cheaper.

Clegg encouraged students to have conversations with each other and professors about the cost of textbooks and school. While the program remains a work very much in progress, essentially, the program will grow as fast as the students, faculty and administration want it to.

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