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Operation Paper Cut: One Year Later

Click. Swipe your Suffolk ID. Release. Print.

Sound familiar? These steps should be recognized by any student who has printed from a Suffolk University computer lab within the past year. They’re unique to Operation Paper Cut, a program designed to limit the wasteful printing in Suffolk’s computer labs.

Prior to Operation Paper Cut, there was no charge for printing at Suffolk which led to stacks of accidental prints piling beside printers. Without the program, there was no incentive to conserve.

With the new program, the administration allocates 500 free pages to each student at the university by pre-loading $25 to their Ram Card. At five cents per sheet, any student printing more than 500 sheets must pay out of pocket.

This fall marks one year since Suffolk’s administration first implemented Operation Paper Cut.

After research, discussion, a trial phase, and revision…the program can finally be called a success.

John Kineavy, the business administrator for the project, reported that the library has seen a 63% reduction in paper use between fiscal years 2013 and 2014. Along with this impressive conservation of paper, the library was seen a 38% reduction in toner use within the same period.

“Those two pieces of data clearly show that Operation Paper Cut is working in its intent to reduce consumable products,” he said.

As one of the last campuses in the area to implement sustainable printing, this is great news for Suffolk.

Colin Loiselle, currently a junior and the vice president of SGA, served as the student representative when administration was implementing Operation Paper Cut.

He was involved in the initial discussions of what type of program Suffolk should adapt, and he toured Emerson College’s computer labs with official to see the effectiveness their printing system. Emerson’s system is the same program that Suffolk has now implemented.

“It’s not as easy as hitting ‘print,’” said Loiselle, “You have to hit print, slide your card, walk over to the printer, and release your job. So those added steps, while they may be an inconvenience at the moment, are making students stop to think about what they’re printing.”

When students stop to think, they’re less likely to waste – even with a paper quota as large as 500 sheets.

“There are some universities around here that don’t give you any free sheets, so every page you print, you’re paying for,” explained Loiselle, “And then there are some that limit you to 75 free prints a semester.”

The 500-sheet allowance provides a reasonable balance between saving paper and ensuring students have enough prints for their schoolwork. Still, the majority of students don’t come close to the maximum.

“I can happily report that 98% of Suffolk University undergraduate students did not reach their 500 page minimum for the fall,” stated Loiselle.

Further statistics show that 20% of students and faculty still had their full quota remaining on their card at the end of last year.

“There’s a good amount of people who aren’t even using Paper Cut in the library,” said Kineavy, explaining that some students may have personal printers in their dorms or apartments.

Along with this, 47% of students and faculty had only used up to $15 of their print bucks.

“That’s almost 50% of the students have a huge remaining balance,” said Kineavy, “The biggest factor is the ones who have zero left. These are the students who used all their print bucks, and it’s less than one percent.”

With a year of statistics to support it, Operation Paper Cut has now been implemented throughout Suffolk’s entire campus – including the law school, which was omitted from the original execution of the program last fall.

Any bugs from the initial employment were smoothed over during a trial phase in the summer of 2013. The only remaining issue thereafter was simply teaching the students how to use the new program. This was fixed by posting an instruction video created through the teamwork of SGA, administration, and the IT department.

“Anytime you put new technology on campus, people will have difficulty learning it, and of course there are a few glitches here and there, but I think overall the transition was extremely smooth,” said Loiselle.

Kineavy also felt the project has been implemented well. He said, “It’s keeping a good balance for the student and it’s also reducing the amount of paper and toner, so it’s aiding the environment.”

One year later, Operation Paper Cut fits seamlessly into the sustainability efforts of Suffolk University – conserving paper without inconveniencing the students.

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