Academic Senate votes in favor of zero, low-cost textbooks

By Maria Marroquin

Senate members voted in favor of East Los Angeles College adapting Open Educational Resources (OER) and zero or low-cost textbooks during the Academic Senate meeting last Tuesday.

The Senate bill 1359 requires all California State Universities and California Community Colleges to promote the selection of course materials that will result in cost savings to students.

Plans of adding an icon in the courses catalog to inform students if the professor they are choosing uses a zero or low-cost textbook are in the works. Although no specific date was given on when this will be implemented, they did mention it should be enforced by Spring 2019.

In addition to saving money, this will allow students to be able to get their homework done without having to wait for financial aid or a book loan to get books on time.

During the discussion, chair of chairs Sherrie Davey explained to  the Senate that a system will be developed where professors can go into academic courses and click a button that once uploaded to the matrix, will let students know which option the professor uses. Potentially, students can choose their courses based on this.

“Every individual, every faculty member has the right to academic freedom and to choose the book that is right for them,” said Davey.

Members of the Academic Senate in attendance expressed their concerns and support on using this approach. Steve Wardinski, Chair of the Curriculum Committee, said that when he tried this approach on one of his online classes the students took to the notion that because the book did not have any cost they could disregard it.

“I do try to include questions on quizzes or topics of papers or topics of midterms that are more challenging to answer without the book than with, those materials are kind of required to do those,” said Wardinski.

“Because textbooks are required by the state, we are trying to find ones that are good quality as well as low cost,” said Davey.

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