SCSU | Letter writing campaign for textbook affordability

written by | Sameen Shakya


At the tail end of the fall  semester, our campus committee set about sending letters to Congressman Tom Emmers, the U.S. representative for Minnesota's 6th Congressional district.

Here is what our letter writing campaign was about:

What were we asking?

We wrote to ask Representative Emmers to co-sponsor the Affordable College Textbook Act [H.R.3840].

The bill was originally sponsored by Representative Jared Polis [D-CO-2] on September 27th 2017. Since then, five people have co-sponsored the bill. More information here.

Why were we are writing?

Students United supports the Affordable College Textbook Act (H.R. 3840/S. 1864).

Textbook costs continue to rise for students. Faculty report that their average textbook costs $97.4 On average, students pay $1,200 a year on textbooks.5 This is a higher price than many students can afford with an overwhelming 65 percent of students saying they have not bought a textbook because of its high price.6   

The Affordable College Textbook Act would:

  • Create a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
  • Ensure that open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public; 
  • Require entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students; 
  • Improve existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and 
  • Require the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress with an update on the price trends of college textbooks. 

The Affordable College Textbook Act is supported by U.S. PIRG, Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, National Association of College Stores, Association of Big Ten Students, Young Invincibles, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, Service Employees International Union, American Association of Community Colleges, Association of Community College Trustees, UNCF, Creative Commons, Association of Research Libraries, and the Association of College & Research Libraries.


Who signed the letters?

Our committee managed to get 200 signatures. We did so mostly by tabling and going around campus informing people of the Affordable College Textbook Act. Once people knew what we were fighting for, they signed easily because affordable textbooks is an issue every college student can get behind. And they did.

Student United St Cloud Committee is proud to have in our own way furthered the cause of Students United, and will continue to do so in the years to come.

Aly Hagglund