The start of any semester at UNC is often hampered by one thing: the relentless expense of textbooks. UNC's chapter of The North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG), a nonpartisan student activist group, is working to decrease this financial burden on students.
Katie Craig, state director for NCPIRG, said that their textbook affordability campaign has been around since the establishment of the campus chapter, but has gained some recent momentum.
The current work on this campaign is carried over from last academic year. NCPIRG also previously worked on campaigns concerning voter registration, single-use plastic and hunger and homelessness.
Katelynn Gilbert, the student president of NCPIRG and primary lead on the textbook affordability campaign, said the organization has been tackling one large campaign goal per academic term.
In the spring, NCPIRG's campaign focused on getting teachers to sign a textbook affordability statement of support. When signing this digital document, professors agree to consider, research and offer affordable materials when designing their courses. There are now around 300 signatories, Gilbert said.
Over the summer, NCPIRG concentrated on encouraging all professors to employ a newly added textbook price marker tool on ConnectCarolina that allows them to note the costs of textbooks and materials for their courses.
This feature was added for spring course registration along with other features detailing modes of instruction and other course information.
“The use of this feature is up to the discretion of each professor," UNC Media Relations Manager Pace Sagester said in an email statement. "Students with questions regarding a course are encouraged to contact their professor."
Because professors may not be aware of the textbook price marker tool or how to navigate it, NCPIRG plans to educate them on how to update their course information to include the tool.