Though requiring that all students have the same, most up-to-date book invariably saves time and is logistically easier for professors to assign work and readings, it also strips students of the ability to shop around and negotiate for the best price. The added financial burden does more to hinder learning than the extra time required to reconcile different page numbers would.
Not all professors do this, though. Many use books available to UC Berkeley students through the library and open-source textbooks. For the sake of affordability, professors must work to make this trend more commonplace.
The inaccessibility of textbooks has been especially problematic this semester because of the student store’s many flaws. But in terms of affordability, the onus is on professors, teachers and departments to have students’ budgets in mind when choosing which books to assign. That the public mission remain accessible requires that the materials used to further that mission are also accessible. We implore professors to be flexible about the editions and version of textbooks, to choose readings from the public domain, to upload content on bCourses and to create other alternatives to this bizarre system that so many subscribe to.
Read the Complete Editorial