Flames of The Torch

Political promises generally hold little weight outside of the heads of the politicians that make them.

United States Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) reiterated his three-year-old, self-proclaimed, “war on high textbook prices” at Hofstra University on Monday.

For now, his focus lies in colleges throughout Long Island, as his research estimates that an average student spends $998 per year on textbooks. His plan, named the Affordable Books for College Act (ABC), calls for colleges and universities to buy textbooks at cheap prices in stock and sell these books at lower prices. The initial financial hit the universities would take would be subsided by loans administered amongst the schools. The recycling of the books would more than pay for the investment after several semesters.

He goes on to mention that parents or students could deduct the price of the textbooks from their taxes.

While the plan seems sound and reasonable, especially in the shadow of a New York City mayoral election where seemingly empty promises are dropped semi-weekly, the reservation of a political proposition remains.

The need for book-spending relief is evident at St. John’s, as students are often forced to pay unreasonably high prices while receiving extremely low buy backs.

“I pay about $600 dollars a year, [maybe] a bit more,” said senior psychology major Emanuel Frowner. When asked if he sold his books back, Frowner said, “I keep them so that I can go back to them sometimes, it’s really not worth it to sell them back to the school bookstore.”

Senior accounting major Kevin Phu added, “I would say I spend about 800 bucks a year, and that’s in used books only. The used books seemed just as good as most of the new books.” While Phu seeks savings in used books, his pursuit for lower prices once made him pay even more than if he had just gone to the Follet campus bookstore. “I bought a cost accounting book [on the internet] and it was cheaper, but it didn’t say it was the international edition,” Phu said. “All the homework problems are different.”

When students are forced to look for cheaper textbooks outside of the campus bookstore, complications in purchasing wrong or old editions are commonplace.

While the price of textbooks has outdone the cost of inflation in recent years, students, who are traditionally strapped for cash, need a system in place that will assist them in receiving an education, a costly one at that. With students paying up to $30,000 per year in tuition at St. John’s, the last thing that one should be worrying about is textbooks, since they are essential most times in passing a course.

To deny students low prices on textbooks is to narrow the opportunity of education. To provide low paybacks on used textbooks makes the problem only worse, as the process of hunting for cheap texts becomes relived every semester. To leave students in pursuit of cheap textbooks is to put their education on hold, as many are forced into long delivery waits.

To research and concoct a plan to ease this fiscal burden is venerable. To put such a plan into action is of the utmost necessity.