OPINION: Wanted at Harvey Mudd: printing access

It’s late at night, but there are no printers in the dorms.

One printer in the building closest to your dorm is inaccessible when the building is closed, and the other printer in that building is out of order. So, you walk across half the campus to complete the print job.

You send your prints to the queue, and just when you think that your work is done, nothing comes out of the printer. A minute passes. Then five. Then 10.

So, you leave for a while, telling yourself you’ll stay in the area and come back for your prints in a little bit. But two hours pass, and only then do you realize that your documents might have actually printed. And again, you have to walk all the way back to the printer to check on your prints.

That’s happened to me here at Harvey Mudd College. And it’s unacceptable.

In the past few weeks that I’ve been on campus, I’ve noticed many issues with the accessibility and reliability of printers at Mudd.

The school is organized like an elongated rectangle with a group of five outer dorms on the side of campus that’s furthest from the classrooms and a group of four inner dorms adjacent to those outer dorms. There are only five student printers, none of which are located in student dorm buildings.

Two of the five printers are located in the Linde Activities Center (LAC), which is between the inner and outer dorms. However, one LAC printer is only accessible when the LAC is open, and the other printer has recently been out of order. 

This means students often have to walk quite far from their dorms to print papers at the Platt Campus Center, which is relatively close to the inner dorms but a sizable distance from the outer dorms. The two other printing options are located near the classrooms, which are far across campus from the dorms.

At least one outer dorm and one inner dorm should be provided with a printer from the school so printing is more accessible to students working in their dorms. With the nearly $80,000 tuition students are paying to attend Mudd, I’m sure the college can afford to purchase a few printers to make our lives easier.

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Similarly, when printers are out of order, students might walk a lengthy distance from their dorms, only to find out the printer they walked to cannot even print what they needed. 

A simple solution would be for the college to provide notifications about printers being out of order through the students-l mailing list or the Mudd mobile application.

Another problem is that connecting to printers is a pain. Printing directly to print.hmc.edu from a laptop is extremely unreliable, as a document sent to print.hmc.edu sometimes does not show up in the actual printer’s queue. 

Most of the time, this problem is resolved with web printing, but sometimes, even when a print job is sent to the queue on a specific printer, it can take more than 10 minutes to print. This is a huge problem for students who are printing time-sensitive materials.

Additionally, web printing only allows for one-sided printing, which wastes paper. Since the printers can take such a long time to print out documents, and students may try to print the same document multiple times when printing is not working, there’s often lots of unwanted paper that’s already been printed upon and cannot be reused.

Mudd calls itself “one of the premier engineering, science and mathematics colleges in the United States.” 

It’s ironic, then, that printing can be so frustrating at HMC. The college must improve its current student printing system to make printing more accessible and reliable across campus.

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Michelle Lum HM ’23 is from San Jose, California. In her short time on Harvey Mudd College’s campus, she’s had some memorable printing adventures.

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