NCPIRG advocates for textbook accessibility

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Alyssa Crouson is pictured at NCPIRG’s outreach event in Wolf Plaza on Oct. 18, 2021. Credit: Cameron Rhinehardt

NC State’s chapter of the North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG) set up camp in Wolf Plaza on Monday to collect petition signatures and student opinions about textbook prices. They will take this information to the NC State administration to raise awareness about high textbook prices.

NCPIRG is drawing attention to textbook affordability in order to try and reduce prices for textbooks for students. To do this, they collected “horror stories” about textbooks at their outreach event. 

“We are collecting horror stories of people who have paid too much for a textbook or never used it and had to buy it,” Alyssa Crouson, a third-year studying English and political science and a NCPIRG textbook campaign intern, said. “We are taking these stories and using them to bring attention to the issue and hopefully get attention from administration.”


Many students are passionate about textbook affordability, and Crouson has her own horror story about textbooks.

“I paid $200 for a textbook for a general education class,” Crouson said. “We did not use it, and I can only get five dollars from amazon to resell it, so I feel as though I wasted money.”

Ravi Hayden-Lowe, a fourth-year studying English and political science who is also an NCPIRG intern, has more horror stories about textbooks.

“Some of the books I have bought were at least $100 and were never even used or were only used one time,” Hayden-Lowe said.

Some professors do not require a textbook for their class, write their own, use free online versions or find other alternatives to using textbooks. 

“A lot of my professors have started creating PDFs for students to use,” Hayden-Lowe said. “That is the best way to do it.”

Hayden-Lowe and Crouson both said that if a professor does not require a textbook, it makes them more likely to take the class.


“Whenever professors don’t require textbooks, it has often built a better relationship between them and their students because they understand how much we pay for textbooks,” Hayden-Lowe said. “It shows that they care.”

Many textbooks are available online; however, students are often required to pay for textbooks whether they are online or physical. 

“There are so many textbooks printed, so if that information is already available, it should be available for everyone,” said Crouson. “It is like paying for free information, so if the University was able to make textbooks accessible to everyone, it would be easier.”

NCPIRG wants to create a grant that allows professors to write their own textbooks and get paid for it.

“Within their [professors’] salary, they will make a textbook and be able to use that,” Crouson said. 

NC State offers all-in access to textbooks to try and reduce prices for textbooks and ultimately save students money.

“The all-in access helps a little,” Hayden-Lowe said. “When I came to State, the all-in access was just getting started and it was the University’s way of trying to help students, but it didn’t really help.”

The free textbook campaign was created to raise awareness about the prices and accessibility of textbooks to University administration.

“The ultimate goal is to get notice,” Hayden-Lowe said. “We want to make textbooks accessible to everyone and getting the administration’s attention is the way to do it.” 

If students are interested in supporting NCPIRG’s free textbook initiative, there is an online petition they can sign. If they are interested in volunteering or interning with NCPIRG, there is an online application.


See this article on the Daily Technician here