Kiewit Public’s gone; now its replacement, Berry Public, may soon be a thing of the past as the College transitions to a new printing system, GreenPrint. Under the new system, already installed on public computers around campus, users print documents as usual. After navigating the standard print dialogue, a new window appears in which the user is asked to specify a username and password for his print job. These are entered again at print stations around campus, at which the job is printed instantly.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. For now, users of operating systems other than Windows and the MacOS are out of luck. Also, as print stations are scattered around campus (for now, there are only a handful in Berry and one in the McLane dorm), breakdowns may become a problem, especially with no employees nearby to remedy them.

There are convenience issues as well. The ability to print out many or lengthy documents prior to pick-up is diminished. How long will it take, for example, to print twenty or thirty single page jobs? Charging library-bound friends to pick up documents will be, at the least, more difficult than it is now and may well stretch the tenacity of friendships. And imagine the lines during exam periods, as students print out term’s worths of class notes, final papers, and research materials. Staggering, most likely. No mention has been made of what will happen to color printing, for now free in Berry.

And all this assumes that students will even use GreenPrint at all. The College’s instructions for installing the necessary software is comlicated and tedious–twelve steps on a Macintosh. One step, for example, requires the user to use software from another company that may not even be on his computer.

The College’s webpages for GreenPrint claim that the old printing system will be phased out when one-half of printed documents are channeled through the new system, and the College predicts that this will occur around the third week of this term. If students are coerced into using the new system, this timetable will inevitably be met, especially as old-style print windows other than Berry’s are shut down.

The goal of the new system–to reduce waste paper from cover pages and unclaimed jobs at public print stations–is laudable and will surely be met, though at a cost to students far outstripping this benefit. More students will be driven to purchase their own printers for convenience’s sake, wasting money and resources (electricity and paper) in a duplication of effort. Students would probably be far more likely to recycle wasted pages at public print centers, where appropriate bins are omnipresent, than elsewhere on campus. Overall, cost saving and environmental benefit are not assured, though the College’s accounting (only measuring public printer output) will seem to indicate otherwise.

Given a choice, some students will use GreenPrint and others would continue to use the old-style system for its myriad conveniences. So long as it receives significant usage, the College should maintain the old-style print system. Time and convenience are not to be discounted, or, as appears to be the case, discarded, in the face of environmental correctness (not to be confused with real environmental gain). GreenPrint will be a good alternative for some students; it should remain that, an alternative.