Auburn students may never have to pay for textbooks again if the latest bill proposed by the SGA senate passes next week. At its meeting next Monday, Feb. 23, the SGA senate will vote on a proposed bill that could provide students with free or inexpensive online versions of textbooks.
Presented by senators Walker Byrd and Justin Mathews, the proposal would provide students with free or inexpensive "open textbooks" through a nonprofit organization, OpenStax, based out of Rice University.
"We as students should have purchasing power of the books we buy, but we don't," Byrd said. "The professors require a book and often times you have no control over how much that book is going to be."
According to Byrd, 63 percent of students choose to not buy a textbook because of the cost.
"The average cost an Auburn student pays for textbooks is $1,200 and that's only if they are taking 12 hours," Byrd said. "Students shouldn't have to choose between having to buy food and having to buy textbooks -- they should have both."
The proposal includes a plan to provide textbooks at a low cost to all students.
"Open education recourses are teaching and learning materials that have been posted online under open licenses granted for everyone to use freely and legally," Byrd said. "It levels the playing field so all students have the same opportunities."
This would also benefit professors, Byrd said.
"(Professors) can mix multiple open education resources together to fit their needs," Byrd said. "They have free reign to mix, distribute, amend or change anything in the book if they deem the material not fit for their class."
If passed, it will be taken to administration, according to Mathews.
"We will take it to University senate and then to higher administration," Mathews said. "We want to talk about how we can begin implementing this because it is a radical solution to a big problem."
Byrd said this decision could greatly benefit students.
"This has the potential to totally transform student life at Auburn because it saves students a lot of money," Byrd said.
In other senate news:
-Passed a bill to request $300,000 of the student activities reserve fund to construct a student memorial.
At last week's meeting, Feb. 9, senate was presented with a project to build a student memorial on campus, remembering the Auburn students, faculty and alumni who have passed away.
The memorial would replace the existing Garden of Memory at the corner of Mell Street and Samford Avenue across the street from the President's mansion.
The next step for this project is to present it to administration and according to Byrd, they are already on board.
"We have pledges from the administration saying that they are in this too," Byrd said. "This will be something we tackle fairly soon as we step into office."
-Passed a bill of the ratification of the School of Nursing's council constitution.
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