Have you ever dropped $145 on a textbook only to find that it was totally irrelevant to anything you would be doing in the class?
Have you ever sprung for a $90 textbook only to find that the binding quality is so poor the pages are practically raining out of it?
Have you ever ponied up $180 for an art history textbook only to find that there are no pictures of art in it?
That last, um, situation has prompted almost 300 first-year students at OCAD University in Toronto to sign a petition demanding their money back.
The students arrived on the first day of class to be informed by a vague (and probably a bit flustered) teacher’s assistant that they would need to access a separate online component in order to see the pictures, according to a National Post article.
Keep in mind that the missing pictures aren’t just bland stock photos of a woman in a lab coat holding up a beaker — images of art are presumably pretty important in an art history class.
The department’s Dean sent a letter around to students attempting to justify the required book by explaining that the book, which is a custom compilation of two other art history textbooks, would have cost $800 had it included the art, the National Post reported.
Cold comfort to OCAD students who are stuck wasting their time trying to juggle an incomplete textbook and a separate ebook, especially considering that University of Toronto art history students get to use a text with comparable content that costs only $151.20 and — get this — comes with pictures.
While most first-years just bitch behind their professor’s backs about the high cost and low usefulness of certain textbooks (and learn that the word “required” is open to interpretation), the OCAD first-years actually stood up for themselves, and they should be commended.
In almost all cases, professors assign textbooks with the best of intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough when it comes to these pricey tomes. A balance of content, cost and relevance needs to be considered, along with an honest assessment of how critical the book is to the course.
And, when best intentions go horribly awry, like they did at OCAD, students need to stop grumbling and speak up or it’s never going to get any better.