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An Open Letter to Whichever Bureaucrats Concern Themselves With These Sorts of Things

Last evening, I had to print out a piece of paper. This is a perfectly innocent thing to have to do, I’m sure you will agree.

Not owning a printer at Dartmouth, I use the College’s public system, called GreenPrint, which has a number of stations set up around campus from which students can print for a small fee. I attempted to do this last night. I approached one of the printers and, through the attached computer, told it to print my page.

It did not. Instead, it spat out a double-sided page of instructions on how to get it to work properly. The infamous page is pictured below.

GreenPrint gook front.jpg GreenPrint gook back.jpg

I do not use the term “infamous” lightly, for this was not the first time a GreenPrint printer birthed the above-pictured abomination. Oh no. A quick tour reveals that each printer has before it a large bin, into which piles upon piles of these ridiculous pages are tossed daily. I would hazard a guess that at least 20 reams of paper, not to mention the associated ink, students’ time, and College money, are wasted on them daily. More aggravating still is that the GreenPrint machines are often perfectly functional when they spit these pages out; they proceed to print the requested document without difficulty after vomiting a copy of the infamous page.

Meanwhile, Dartmouth announced last week that it will be installing “real-time, animated displays in the common spaces of the Rauner, Bildner, Goldstein and Thomas residence halls. The displays, broadcast on low-energy monitors, will show an animated polar bear, designed by Sonia Lei ‘08, at various levels of comfort or distress, depending on the amount of energy being used in the building. Low energy use equals a happy, healthy polar bear. High usage results in the bear suffering the effects of global warming.”

Can you say waste of money?

Can you say perverse priorities?

Can you say bureaucratic blindness?

McKinsey can! “The annual budgeting process for administrative services is not explicitly tied to institutional priorities and there is no formal planning process that creates the necessary linkage.”

If we’re going to be environmentally conscious, let’s do it in a way that saves time and money, not wastes it.

Why can’t the printers be programmed not to continually vomit up copies of the infamous page? Technological impossibility? I reject that explanation out of hand. This is Dartmouth.

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