The TAAP program was met with mixed opinions from students and faculty at The Scribe tabling event in Columbine on Oct. 19.
Many students expressed that they experienced problems acquiring their course materials in a timely manner and were divided on whether or not TAAP is a cost saving program. Faculty expressed frustration with the strong shift in the priorities of the university and the limiting factors of the program as a whole.
James Baginski (he/him) — Professor in the department of geography and environmental studies
Baginski’s main complaint about the new TAAP program is that it seemed like a dramatic shift from the previous way the university was trying to make learning materials cheaper and more accessible.
“In the years leading up prior to this, the institution was actually incentivizing faculty financially to come up with alternative free resources for students to use,” Baginski said. He added that this financial incentive was up to $1,000.
Baginski redesigned his courses to not require students to buy any course materials, so he advised his students to TAAP out this semester. “They were going to pay $88 for my four-credit class for literally nothing,” Baginski said. “I wasn’t willing to just immediately redesign my classes again with books.”
Baginski said faculty was included in the design of the TAAP program only after the decision had been made to implement it. “We were asked for input after it was signed, sealed and delivered,” he said.
Baginski said he doesn’t know if TAAP is a good fit for the geography and environmental studies program because it is too early to tell, but he does think it could potentially benefit students taking courses with more expensive books.
Nate Siebert (he/him) — Professor in the department of English
In the past, Siebert and some of his colleagues have given students multiple book options to choose from to let them select materials they are interested in.
“With TAAP, I feel like it almost eliminates that possibility because I can’t order all 50 of those books in for TAAP,” Siebert said.
“Now I’m going to ask them to go out and buy another book from Amazon or something like that even though they’ve already paid the $66 for my class. So, it feels like this unfair financial burden on them to do what used to be … a cost-saving tactic that allowed them to explore their interests,” Siebert said.
Kristan Haywood (she/her) — Sophomore in biochemistry
Haywood was required to TAAP in as a part of her VA program, otherwise the program would not pay for her textbooks. She still had to buy books outside of TAAP due to them being listed as optional in her classes.
Despite this, Haywood did enjoy the convenience of the program. “All the ones that said that the book was required just came with it, so that part was easy,” she said.
While she enjoyed the convenience of the program, Haywood said she didn’t know what TAAP was until the semester started.
“Honestly, there’s not been really much communication. I didn’t know what it was until it started and it was happening, and then I realized, after finding out that I had to find my books, basically what it was,” Haywood said.
Haywood would not be in favor of seeing TAAP continue in the future. “It’s not benefitting me, so I’d be okay if it disappeared,” she said.
Director of military affairs Crista Hill clarified that TAAP interacts with the VA program in various ways for students. Some receive a book stipend that provides students money for their books, and some students don’t receive a stipend at all.
Other VA students are paid by the VA when their total bill is paid to the university, which, if a student has TAAPed out, means the textbooks are not included in the final bill. Regardless, Hill said students may be able to purchase books on their own and be reimbursed by the VA.
Hill recommended that students using VA benefits reach out to the VMA office before TAAPing out so they can figure out if it will help them or not.
Kaitlyn Hanson (they/them) — Graduate student in history
Hanson was originally informed that graduate students were not going to be included in the TAAP program. “By the time they said that grads were going to be included, I had already TAAPed out,” they said.
Despite being annoyed by the initial email about only including undergraduate students in the program, Hanson said the communication from the people behind TAAP has been fine and that everything made sense.
Hanson estimated that they saved around $200 for opting out of TAAP, but they wouldn’t be opposed to TAAPing in for future semesters if it saves them money.
“My other friend TAAPed in. They’re in … undergrad sociology, so they TAAPed in because it was easier and more effective for them, which that’s great. So, I think it just depends on your circumstances if it works or doesn’t work,” Hanson said.
Overall, Hanson is supportive of the TAAP program. “Saves you time, saves you money, saves you brain cells,” they said.
Chelsea Baker (she/her) — Sophomore in cybersecurity management
Baker TAAPed in, but her biggest frustration is with the per credit hour fee. Baker is currently taking 19 credit hours, and she said she’s spent more this semester for TAAP than she has for her books in previous semesters since she only needed three this time.
“It should not be based on credit hours, especially if those credit hours don’t require a book,” Baker said.
Another issue Baker has with the program is the inability to choose a preferred format for textbooks. “It is nice to have all the books in one place, but I personally prefer physical books,” Baker said. “I get headaches if I have too much screentime, so it’s just kind of affected how much work I can get done.”
In the future, Baker said she would use TAAP if she needed a lot of textbooks for her classes.
Lea Partipilo (she/her) — Junior in English literature and secondary teaching
Partipilo started the semester TAAPed in, but TAAPed out once she realized some of her books weren’t going to come in on time, so she ordered them herself. She had to refund a few books because her classes were already done with them.
“I wasn’t getting books that I needed like right away for classes,” Partipilo said. “I was pretty stressed at the beginning of the semester trying to figure out if I would have books or if I would be able to get them.”
Partipilo also wishes she could choose to get physical books instead of digital because she finds it easier to annotate in the physical version.
Despite her problems with TAAP, Partipilo said it would have saved her $200 had she TAAPed in. She said she would be in favor of using the program in the future if she has the security of knowing her materials will get in on time.
“I think if there’s improvements made and more choices to the individual or professors, I definitely think it’s something that I would like,” Partipilo said.
Joy Kitts (she/her) — Senior in psychology
Kitts TAAPed out after getting some advice from a bookstore employee who said it was more expensive for her to TAAP in.
Even after TAAPing out, Kitts said she still has access to her digital books after the census date. She did, however, have complications accessing some of her online coursework because of TAAP.
Kitts feels that not being involved in TAAP has made her semester more confusing because the program made her feel like she had to jump through more hoops. “It adds a lot more complications to something that was easier in previous semesters,” she said.
The complications and lack of consistency in information coming from TAAP employees made Kitts not in favor of using TAAP in future semesters.
Isa Kevorkian (she/her) — Graduate student in clinical psychology
As a student that TAAPed in, Kevorkian appreciated the convenience of the program. “I didn’t have to like search for my textbooks. I just walked in, I got them, I left.” She also said she saved $200 because of the program.
Kevorkian feels that TAAP is a great improvement from her undergraduate degree and wants to see the program continue.
“I went to a small liberal arts school for my bachelor’s, so we didn’t have anything like that. I just spent hundreds of dollars on my textbooks,” Kevorkian said, “but now I could just walk in, get them and leave.”
This article and the ones before and after it are part of a series on the different perspectives of TAAP. Click here for the previous article.
Geography environmental studies faculty, James Baginski, offers his feedback for the TAAP program. Photo by Meghan Germain.