The California chapter of the national Public Interest and Research Group (CalPIRG) is getting a boost from a local nonprofit foundation.
CalPIRG, a consumer and student advocacy group, announced Monday it received a $5,500 grant from the Fund for Santa Barbara. The money will be used to hire a CalPIRG staff member to be in charge of the organization’s statewide affordable textbook campaign, said Justin Pabian, a UCSB freshman and local coordinator for the textbook project.
“We’re fortunate to be granted this money,” Pabian said.
Merriah Fairchild, CalPIRG’s higher education advocate, currently handles many of the organization’s functions, Pabian said, and a single person with expertise in textbooks would make the project more efficient.
“[Fairchild] does a lot,” Pabian said. “She talks with the media, she writes the reports and she’s the main contact with the textbook publishers.”
CalPIRG released a survey in January which concluded that UC students will spend an average of $898 each on textbooks this year. According to the report, UCSB students will pay an average of $979.20 each – the highest price for textbooks in the UC system. The report also stated that some textbook companies bundle and charge for extra material, such as CD-ROMs. Of the faculty surveyed, a large majority said those added materials are rarely used in the course.
The survey also said that publishers only make minor revisions in each edition of a textbook. Pabian used the Math 3A calculus textbook as an example.
“I sat down with two editions of the books and they are almost the same, and some parts are exactly the same,” he said.
Pabian said he is talking with university administrators and faculty about working with book publishers to keep prices down.
“The faculty and administrators we’ve spoken with have been very supportive,” he said.
The Fund for Santa Barbara is a nonprofit foundation supporting grassroots organizations working for social, economic and environmental justice in Santa Barbara County. According to its website, the foundation has given over $2.5 million to more than 500 local projects since 1980.