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Faculty Senate resolution urges compliance with Colorado textbook bill

Faculty members at the University of Denver are taking a step to help ease students’ pain in the pocketbook when it comes to textbook costs.

In November, the Faculty Senate passed a resolution introduced by the Senate’s Student Relations Committee urging publishers who work with DU to voluntarily comply with Colorado Senate Bill 73, which was signed into law by Gov. Bill Ritter in April 2008 and goes into effect July 1, 2009.

The law requires that textbook publishers who do business with Colorado public universities provide faculty members with the retail price of textbooks, reveal the extent of any revisions in updated text editions so professors can decide whether it’s worth ordering the update, and make “unbundled” textbooks (without CDs, workbooks, and other supplementary material) available. The extension of the Federal Higher Education Act of 1965 will require similar compliance nationwide beginning in 2010.

While the state law currently applies only to public universities, the DU Faculty Senate unanimously adopted its resolution in order to address the growing concern over the high cost of textbooks.

“There is a lot of student activism surrounding this issue,” says Daniels College of Business professor Don McCubbrey, chair of the Faculty Senate Personnel Committee. “In October 2007, over 1,000 students joined a rally on the Auraria campus in support of legislation and other efforts aimed at reducing textbooks costs.”

According to a recent study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the average annual cost of books and supplies for a full-time, in-state freshman at a four-year public college is $898, or roughly one-fourth of tuition and fees. Annette Nelson, general merchandise and textbook manager for the DU Bookstore, estimates that the average cost for a DU undergraduate purchasing textbooks on campus is $800.

“Given the student and parental concern about this topic, and the current economic climate, we thought that it would be only fair for the Faculty Senate to ask publishers to comply with the same rules required by state schools,” McCubbrey says.

The Faculty Senate is working with representatives from the DU Bookstore to implement the plan and write a document outlining the details for faculty members and publishers. The bookstore hopes to have the document finished in the next month and ready for distribution to the faculty and departments this spring.

“We are excited about our endeavors to help the faculty hold the publishers more accountable and thus be able to help make course materials more affordable for DU students,” Nelson says.

The Faculty Senate’s hope is that by asking publishers to provide more information to faculty members about the textbooks they are interested in using, professors will be able to make more informed decisions that will save students money.

“The most important thing is that we are sending a message to students and parents that we do care about t

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