This academic year, Wheaton College implemented the Freenters printing service, which gives students the option to print for free in Buswell Memorial Library and campus residence halls. The company hopes their service will offer a costless alternative to potentially expensive printing on campus.
Freenters offers students at 23 colleges and universities across the United States the option of printing for free by working with local advertisers. Wheaton College pilot-tested the system beginning in March 2018 and now has a contract with Freenters for the entirety of this school year.
Rho Kook Song, the founder of Freenters, was inspired to create a free printing service while studying at the University of Chicago. “When I was a college student, I had [a] very limited budget,” he said. “We [were] paying a lot of money [for] tuition and other academic expenses, and I didn’t think that it [was] right for college students to also pay for printing in school for their academics.”
The service allows each registered student to print 83 pages per month which would save the average student roughly $39.84 per year for black and white documents. “We developed that limit through surveys from more than one hundred different universities in the U.S. and felt quite confident that the limit would be able to cover most students’ printing needs,” Song said. Every fifth page an advertisement is printed, usually for a local business.
Song hopes that Freenters will “increase affordability and [improve] student life at universities across the U.S.” At Wheaton College, students who would like to take advantage of the Freenters service must sign up for a Freenters account using their school email address, then print from the “Freenters Driver” in print options. After signing in to the Freenters popup and clicking “Print,” students may release jobs on campus printers as they normally would for free.
The Freenters service has partnered with the Student Government Association’s Technology and Finance committee in order to implement their service and increase student use at Wheaton. “The student government has been very vocal and enthusiastic in bringing our service to the campus,” Song said.
Some students at Freenters’ college and university partners have voiced concerns about the environmental sustainability of the service since it prints more pages than necessary. To ease their fears, Freenters has partnered with a company called PrintReleaf, which measures companies’ paper consumption, calculates its environmental impact, then reforests the company’s “paper footprint” at planting sites.
Junior Hailey Kramer, executive vice president of technology and finance for student government, is the liaison between Wheaton College and Freenters. According to Kramer, many Wheaton students are unaware of the free printing option available to them. “One of my main priorities this semester is advertising about Freenters.
I’ve found that a lot of times students don’t know … that we have free printing on campus,” she said. In coming weeks, the committee hopes to raise awareness with flyers around Lower Beamer and “let students know that this is an option.”
Freshman Lindsay Fadel is a Technology and Finance committee member and active proponent of the Freenters service at Wheaton. “Not only does [Freenters] allow free printing, but every fifth page often contains coupons for restaurants and stores in the Wheaton area, which promotes small businesses and is good for the community,” she said. Fadel and Kramer both hope that students not only benefit from printer savings, but also from the opportunity to save money when they visit stores in downtown Wheaton.
Roughly 20 percent of Wheaton College students are signed up for the Freenters service. By the end of this academic year, Song hopes this percentage will nearly double. One day, the company hopes to make free printing the standard in colleges and universities across the U.S.