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How #TextbookBroke is Changing the Textbook Game

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Lubaba Hoque
Communications Assistant
Wed, 09/12/2018 - 10:45

Now that classes are back in full swing, many students are lining up to buy textbooks. While the high prices of textbooks are not new to students, the #TextbookBroke campaign is bringing light to the situation and encouraging alternative solutions.   

“Textbook costs only ever seem to be going up,” said Federation of Students Vice President Education Matthew Gerrits. “Textbook Broke is an opportunity to start a conversation around alternatives to textbooks like Open Educational Resources or OERs, which are essentially a way for professors or for instructors to write textbooks that are available very cheaply or sometimes for free for student use, which makes textbook costs far more affordable for students.”

The Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) began their #TextbookBroke campaign in 2017 to help address and tackle the growing student debt that most of us accumulate throughout our post-secondary education. As a member of OUSA, Feds takes part in the campaign and advocates for more affordable education.

“The big thing is affordability,” Gerrits stated. “There are only so many dollars for students to spend and we don’t want to see students graduating in amounts of debt that are unsustainable or hard to pay back and textbooks are a big part of that.”

OERs have been successful in British Columbia, Gerrits said, and the hope is that the OER model can be replicated in Ontario and at the University of Waterloo.

One of the biggest factors in starting an OER library is getting professors interested in taking part. OUSA advocates for government funding as well as for universities to allocate money within their budgets to support OERs and generate interest from professors.  

So what can we as students do to help get cheaper or potentially free textbooks? Students can play a crucial role by talking to their professors about OERS, Gerrits said.

“Start up the conversation with professors who have at least some level of control over what resources they are using to teach,” he said. “See if there is a textbook [for your course] in the open textbook library through ecampus Ontario and if there is, talk to your professor about why they haven’t adopted it or if they’d be willing to adopt it.”

If you’ve ever stressed out about how much your education is costing you, this is a great opportunity where students can make a difference.

“I’m really interested in seeing this being not just something that we can do on the level of Feds,” Gerrits said, “but I think this is a great opportunity for the everyday student to be able to go out and do some advocacy on their own.”

Interested in taking part in the campaign? Take a picture of your textbook receipts and share on social media using #TextbookBroke to join the conversation and talk to your faculty about OERs.

Looking to save some money on textbooks now? Check out Feds Used Books!