Got ink? We don't

Categories:  News    The Arts
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 at 4:39 PM
Got ink? We don't by Gabriel Hypes
Graphic: Shelby Kirk

Art students, and more specifically design students in need of printing projects, have encountered a new item on their billing statements in the 2017-2018 school year.

On top of tuition and the art fee — a fee of five percent of the per-credit tuition rate for all students enrolled in a course with an ART prefix — design students, specifically juniors and seniors, are now asked to supply the ink for their projects this semester. Joining the ranks of tuition and the “art fee” for art students, the ink fee is born.

The ink fee comes in at $111 for the semester in added cost. In addition, this is a cost that cannot be covered by financial aid because the bookstore does not currently carry the ink. But this is not because the art professors did not attempt to have the bookstore carry it.

When trying to order the ink for the bookstore, the art faculty was informed that the bookstore was unable to stock the specific ink because they could not sell them for a competitive price and make a profit. According to Raymond Fisher, Edinboro bookstore manager: “When trying to find the specific ink, no vendor would give a discount. So if we were to bring the ink in and then increase the cost to justify our purchase, it would not have been worth it to the students who could buy it from other retailers at a much lower cost.”

This ink fee is per design course over the semester, meaning if you’re in two or three design classes where printing is required for projects, the fee is doubled or tripled. The fee is required if you want to use the printing labs on campus for your projects.

To get past the ink fee, students can volunteer to be a “lab aide” in the printing room, helping students who do not know how to work the printers. By working four hours a week per design course, there is no ink fee.

If students are volunteering their time to get out of the extra fee, where is the ink fund shortage coming from?

This confusion was met with answers after sitting down with Brigette Davitt, an associate professor of graphic design at Edinboro.

“The graphic design school has a budget of $24,000 a year, $19,000 of which goes to paying for ink,” said Davitt. 

The faculty have had trouble keeping the printing labs monitored recently. “In the past, we have had 15 or so work-study students monitoring labs that are open 24/7 but now, we are given one. One student working 14 hours a week in a lab that is open all the time does not help,” she said.

Offering the volunteering, Davitt and the rest of the faculty feel it will help the ink situation in the long run: having experienced hands in the
lab helping students will limit mistakes in the lab, saving ink over time and making sure equipment, that is not bought by the university and comes out of the art budget, requires less maintenance.

So, why isn’t the art school getting the funding that they need? With tuition increases and the fee for art students specifically, why isn’t there enough money for ink?

For the 2015-2016 academic year, the university spent over $5 million to keep the art college running, while bringing in a little less than $4 million. Faculty understand that though.

Shelle Barron, a graphic and interactive design professor at Edinboro stated: “As faculty in the state system, we are charged with educating every student that enters through our doors, and we do that in the best way possible, as evidenced by the awards, accolades and jobs our students receive.

“The cost to attend a private art school is double or more the cost of Edinboro and for many years we have been a destination for talented students whose families cannot afford that cost. We are proud and determined to serve our majors.”

Regarding the art fee, according to a university spokesperson, this fee was never designed to pay for art materials, like ink; rather, the fee pays for the studio nature of the art courses and the higher cost of instruction per student as Edinboro attempts to keep class sizes within the limits of the department’s accrediting body.

The fees also help Edinboro University maintain accreditation with lower class sizes and ensure the financial viability of EU’s high-demand art programs.

In an interview last spring, Barron stated, “The art fee is not a fee (like one would pay for withdrawing a class) it’s a fee for not having overbooked classes.”

The art department has moved through different forms of additional funding.

The college used to have a lab fee, and when that was stopped, they developed a consumable fee. The university now decides the budget. The department works to fill in gaps.

That is how the ink fee was born and according to James Parlin, chairperson of the art department, “Just like buying books or other art supplies,” it’s a pretty necessary cost.

Gabriel Hypes is the arts editor for The Spectator. He can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com. 

Tags: art fee, design

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