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Letter to the editor

Explanation given, apology offered

October 3, 2008

Most students, I think, understand that Textbook Services (TS) saves them a lot of money on textbooks each semester. While students who attend universities which require them to purchase their textbooks can easily spend $500 per semester on textbooks, full-time students at UW-River Falls currently pay a $71.65 rental fee each semester. This entitles our students to check out primary and supplementary texts for their undergraduate classes.

The textbook rental system that we have at UWRF is a great system, but requires our students to accept responsibility for returning textbooks on time and for making sure to avoid loss or damage to their textbooks during the time they are using them.

With this in mind, we give each student a one page copy of our policies at the time they check out textbooks. Had Eric read and observed the policies stated on this piece of paper, he would not have been charged either of the fines that he speaks about in his column.

We don’t enjoy charging or collecting fines, but it is one of the few ways that we have to ensure that students observe our policies so the needs and rights of other students are not compromised.

Many times, not returning textbooks from dropped classes does result in another student not having access to a textbook. This happens often during the start of each semester and it is a serious problem for TS and students.
Failure to return textbooks from dropped classes also often results in TS having to purchase an additional copy of the text and, with many texts costing well over $100, this is a significant expense that is ultimately paid for by all students.

We require that all textbooks from dropped classes be returned within four calendar days of the date that the class was dropped. In this sense, we are like many other rental systems.

For example, the car rental company does not have to prove that someone else actually needs the car before they charge you extra when you return it late. All they have to show is that it can result in additional expense for them and inconvenience for their customers.

I must admit, though, that I did make a mistake in charging Eric a fine for the damaged book that he also referred to in his column. I take full responsibility for this mistake and apologize for the inconvenience and expense this has caused Eric. I will be sending Eric a refund for the amount of the fine that he paid for the damaged text. Or, he may come to TS and accept the refund and my apology in person.

TS policies are not written in stone. I am currently forming a Textbook Services Advisory Committee for this academic year. This committee is the best forum for discussions about TS policies. It meets once a month. We need five students and two faculty members to serve on this committee. If anyone is interested in serving on this committee, please contact me.

Virgil Monroe
Manager, Textbook Services