Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate bills 1052 and 1053 into law on Sept. 27 in front of a group of college students. One of them was American River College Associated Student Body President Quierra Robey, who helped advocate the bill.
“Honestly, it’s something I’m so proud of because it’s the first bill I advocated on, that I got to see pass and signed,” said Robey. “So it’s dear to my heart. It’s very personal.”
The bills, introduced by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, plans to make it easier for students to get access to textbooks. The bills will create an online library where the 50 most popular lower level college textbooks can be downloaded for free, or $20 for hard copies, for California State Universities, University of California and community colleges.
“The current cost of traditional textbooks is so high, some college students are forced to struggle through a required class without the textbook, forced to drop classes or sometimes even drop out of college altogether,” Steinberg said in a prepared statement on Sept. 27 to the Sacramento Bee. “There’s absolutely no reason a basic biology, statistics or accounting textbook, for example, should cost $200.”
It is also extremely difficult for students who are on financial aid and do not get their money in time to purchase required readings.
“I’m a financial aid student, and I’m very proud of it,” said Robey. “I’m not afraid to admit that, but I’ve got to wait for the check to go to the card to get the text book. I have my own budget, and when I find out that my book is 200 bucks, it’s just like, why? Why $200?”
Kristina Casper-Denman, ARC history and anthropology professor, feels the pressure of the high-priced textbooks and is in favor of the passing of the bills. She would love to be able to use them in her classes, but won’t be abled too this upcoming semester.
“I just ordered textbooks for next semester and my textbooks are more expensive than the classes I’m teaching, so I am all in favor,” said Casper-Denman. “If we really want students to succeed, one of the barriers we have is finances and anything we can do in order to make those textbooks accessible.”
Casper-Denman’s physical anthropology textbook is $120, and with recent budget cuts, she feels it has been unfair for students to have to pay so for her textbooks.
“How do you tell a student, ‘yeah, great, you can afford the class, but you can’t afford the textbook?’” said Casper-Denman.