Faculty Role in Mitigating the Costs of Textbooks

AS-2747-06/FA - May 4-5, 2006

RESOLVED: That consistent with the fundamental right and responsibility of faculty to select course materials, the principles of academic freedom, and the goal of providing high quality education, the Academic Senate California State University (CSU) reaffirm the fundamental right and responsibility of the faculty to set curriculum and select those materials, either traditional or alternative, that are pedagogically most appropriate for delivering that curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED: That consistent with these principles, which ensure the academic and intellectual soundness of course materials, the Academic Senate CSU encourage CSU faculty to consider-when appropriate, pedagogically sound and feasible -- selecting course textbooks and materials that minimize the cost to students; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU recommend that the campus academic senates, where necessary, work with bookstores to arrive at mutually acceptable timelines for text adoption; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU encourage faculty to submit their textbook requests within these timelines to ensure the availability of textbooks through the campus and other local bookstores; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU encourage faculty to notify their campus bookstores as early as possible about re-adoptions of previously used textbooks to allow current students who wish to sell their copies back to the campus bookstore, which would also provide a larger quantity of cheaper, used textbooks for future students; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU encourage faculty and campus bookstores to communicate clearly with publisher representatives about textbook pricing concerns and options; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the Academic Senate CSU reaffirm the fundamental right and responsibility of faculty to select traditional textbooks, alternative formats, and ancillary items with intellectual content and teaching effectiveness as the prime considerations.

RATIONALE: The Academic Senate CSU recognizes that the high cost of certain textbooks and ancillaries can adversely affect the affordability of higher education for CSU students; it also recognizes that the California State Student Association (CSSA) and the California legislature have expressed ongoing concerns about the rapid rise in textbook prices for CSU students and about associated cost factors such as the bundling of textbooks with sometimes unneeded supplements. These problems have received attention in the national media and in other legislatures as well. In 2004, the California Legislature and the Governor approved legislation (AB 2477) urging book publishers to offer lower-price textbook options whenever possible and encouraging campus faculty and bookstores to do likewise and to generally pursue more economical textbook pricing practices. Among options available to faculty are
  • adopting the least expensive edition of books they wish to use;
  • using the same book and edition as long as it remains appropriate pedagogically;
  • telling students the probable cost of books and materials for their class(es);
  • reviewing textbook adoption timelines and procedures with the campus bookstore;
  • working with publishers and bookstores if bundles are necessary to ensure that they are economically sound;
  • adopting texts and materials in a manner that allows students to buy parts of a bundle;
  • developing coursepacks (course readers),
  • using e-reserves.

While the Academic Senate CSU recognizes that course packs and e-reserves help reduce costs to students, it also urges faculty to remember that content included in such delivery mechanisms must follow federal fair use and copyright guidelines.

Even though they understand the financial constraints with which many students are faced, the Academic Senate CSU and the CSU must also protect the academic freedom necessary for and inherent to effective and independent faculty selection of textbooks. This resolution proposes that faculty can develop ways of both maintaining their professional and curricular integrity and helping students contain the cost of their education.

Approved – May 4-5, 2006


 
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