Barnes & Noble College presented a proposal for a program called First Day Complete to the Associated Student Government (ASG) at last Thursday’s meeting. However, ASG members showed signs of concern over how the program is built.
“We know textbook affordability is a big challenge for all students,” Lauren Martin, regional manager of Barnes & Noble College said. “This is a program that we have worked with a lot of our campus partners to develop to provide equitable access and affordability in course materials for all students.”
ASG members, including Bella Price, ASG president and senior history and education major, had questions and concerns over the program.
“Why is this a student fee,” said Price. “Why can't this be something that students choose to participate in and not choose to opt out of?”
First Day Complete was first launched in 2019 and now over 240 schools participate in the program, according to Barnes and Noble’s website. Multiple course materials would be made available such as digital textbooks, software and hard copies of books, according to Martin.
“More so than ever, we are starting to see students forgoing getting their course material, it's really having a negative impact,” Martin said.
Avoiding purchasing textbooks can occur for many different reasons. For some students, it could be financial issues or accessibility issues. Barnes and Noble is seeing that many students are trying to go without their course materials, according to Martin.
The program would have a fee built into ESU students’ tuition for approximately $22 per credit hour and students would have the option to opt out and not participate, according to Martin. This would allow for your financial aid to automatically pay for your books instead of the current process of having to wait until your refund has been processed, according to Mike McRell, ESU bookstore manager.
Another member of ASG also raised concerns about how the company polled students on campus. In this poll, 386 students responded and 90 percent of them said they’d be interested in a program like First Day Complete, according to Martin.
“So my concern with that we have roughly 2800 students enrolled at ESU right now and so 386 students isn’t even a third of the total population on campus and I don’t know if that’s very reflective of our campus as a whole at the moment,” said Adia Witherspoon, ASG senator and senior earth science major.
Martin explained that a successful poll from their marketing team requires 10 percent of the campus to respond to the survey and that we surpassed that needed amount.
Due to time constraints, ASG agreed to table the discussion for a later meeting.
Price and ASG vice president Hailey Kisner are working on gathering student input, according to Price.
“It is important that all students are considered in the decision,” Price said in a statement.