Paperless campus poses a challenge

Goal is to go completely paper-free, but issues of confidentiality remain a sticking point.

by Andrea Iseman
Life Reporter
Published: March 27, 2oo8

The amount of paper Humber uses has decreased but going 100 per cent paperless is a way off, said John Mason, vice-president of student and corporate services.

Students are encouraged to access most course information online in some courses said Mike Planche, the program coordinator for business administration. Photo by Andrea Iseman

Students are encouraged to access most course information online in some courses said Mike Planche, the program coordinator for business administration. Photo by Andrea Iseman

“Awareness is starting to emerge,” said Mason. “The technology will evolve, but there is a bit of a challenge in that the format of paper is just easier to handle.”

With issues of confidentiality in reusing paper, and with the high comfort level and sheer ease in using paper, it will take time before all processes move to electronic format, Mason said.

The idea of going paperless is happening on some fronts, such as student applications, transcripts, and time sheets, which helps to speed processing time for both staff and students, he added.

“Eventually it would be great if everyone had their own screens to work off of,” Mason said.

Ian Jones, co-ordinator of mailroom and receiving at Humber, has seen a decrease in the amount of paper usage over the years. Between the 2006 to 2007 and 2007 to 2008 fiscal years, sheets of paper used have decreased by about four million.

“Everyone’s looking green now,” he said. “Humber is more focused now, to recycle, as there is an increased overall awareness of what’s happening out there.”

It is more expensive to purchase recycled paper, about a 10 per cent difference in cost per 1,000 sheets, said Jones. But, in a fight between the environment and the budget, he said the environment will most likely win.

David Griffin, the manager of maintenance and operations, has also seen an increase in the amount of recycled material on campus, as garbage cans in classrooms have been replaced with recycling stations.

But Griffin said going 100 per cent paperless is a goal.

“We have to be realistic,” he said. “Part of what we have to do in an academic environment is use paper.”

Mike Planche, the program co-ordinator for business administration, said that the long-term benefits of going paperless is not just  a decrease in paper that normally goes to landfills. People could also spend the time doing other things such as reviewing thier notes online.

“I encourage students to access everything online,” he said. And he said his students are responding well to the new paperless initiatives, such as posting lectures and handouts on the class website.

“Students themselves are also much more electronically savvy than me and don’t have time to sit around and wait for paper,” Planche said.

He said that moving towards going completely paperless is possible, but requires those who are short-sighted to change their mindsets, as paper is still what most people are used to.

“It can’t be done overnight, but you never know what’s around the corner,” he said.

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