By Charlie Smart
Early this fall, UConn’s chapter of PIRG, a national public interest advocacy group, began waging a war against the high price of college textbooks. On Thursday, a group of UConn PIRG representatives traveled to the state capitol in Hartford to testify in favor of Connecticut House Bill 6117, “An Act Concerning the Use of Digital Open-Source Textbooks in Higher Education.”
The bill, introduced by Mansfield representative Gregg Haddad aims to assess and promote the use of affordable open-source online textbooks as a means of cutting the high price of college for students in Connecticut. UConn PIRG chapter chair Saman Azimi explains that open source textbooks are similar to normal textbooks in that they are written by professors, however instead of being sold though a publishing company they are released online for free.
“There was support from the representatives there and it seemed like we had clear support for our bill.”
The PIRG representatives spoke in front of the State Higher Education and Employment Committee, giving firsthand testimony explaining how they paid hundreds of dollars for textbooks each semester. They discussed online access codes, frequent book revisions, low resale values, and other factors that contribute to large textbook price tags.
The state representatives seemed very receptive to the students. Uconn PIRG member Thomas McGlone felt that the night was an overall success saying, “all the members that spoke got positive reinforcement from the representatives who were listening, they asked a lot of questions, and we certainly were good at enlightening them as to the open source textbook initiative.”
Affordable Textbooks Campaign Coordinator Oluwatoyin Akinnusotu agreed.
Azimi says that this testimonial is not the end of UConn PIRG’s campaign for open source textbooks and looks forward to what the organization will accomplish in the future. He says the end goal for this initiative is to see this act passed.