We all know the feeling of rushing from class to the Science Center basement, only to discover that the coursepack for “Rome of Augustus” or “Warren Court” is sold out. But luckily, it’s possible to put that coursepack on order, and pick it up within a few days, right?
The people at University Information Systems (UIS)—the same folks who charge students the criminal fee of $16.17 nine times a year just for on-campus phone calls—also run the Harvard Printing and Publications Services (HPPS). HPPS, which makes Harvard’s coursepacks, has decided that ordering out-of-stock coursepacks is far too cumbersome. For themselves, that is.
Instead, students must now continuously check back to see if the coursepacks are in stock. Sure, for the future biochemistry concentrator who lives in Canaday and spends most of his time in the Science Center, this isn’t a major issue. But for those government or English concentrators who live in Currier or Mather and seldom set foot in the Science Center, trekking in the dead of winter, multiple times a day is an incredible inconvenience.
UIS says that students can check their website and see if their coursepack is in stock. However, for large courses, there’s a great chance that the coursepacks will be sold out again by the time one makes the epic journey from Pforzheimer to the Science Center.
HPPS claims to be a “valued contributor to the Harvard community,” yet this clearly inconveniences students. Students are, after all, their customers. UIS and HPPS should provide them with the best service possible, not exploit their shameful near-monopoly on coursepack production. If they sincerely want to contribute to the Harvard community, they must consider the effects their policies have on students, not just what is easiest for them.
—GANESH N. SITARAMAN