Sen. Durbin visits Illini Union Bookstore to celebrate the College Textbook Affordability Act

Daily Illini
September 1, 2010
By: Nora Ibrahim

Students, faculty and local residents gathered to meet with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., on Wednesday at the Illini Union Bookstore.

During his visit, Durbin spoke about the College Textbook Affordability Act, a law he authored that works to minimize students’ cost for education across the nation. The law went into effect July 1 of this year.

“Today, I came to celebrate the passing of a law I first suggested go into action two years ago,” Durbin said. “We’re very happy with its passing, and we expect to see many students benefit from this.”

The law requires publishers to inform professors and students of less expensive alternatives to acquire textbooks. In addition, universities are required to publicly list textbook prices and information.

“The average college student spends nearly $900 on textbooks every year, and the cost of textbooks is climbing at four times the rate of inflation,” Durbin said. “It is time to give them the information and options they need to make educated decisions about managing their finances in school.”

The Illini Union Bookstore was among the first in the country to introduce cheaper options in purchasing class text materials starting four years ago, said Bradley Bridges, the bookstore’s associate director of retail operations. Bridges said these options include the store’s partnership with Illini Book Exchange and its offering of online copies of textbooks.

Accompanying Durbin at the podium were Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Renee Romano, University President Michael Hogan, State Sen. Mike Frerichs (D-52) and five student speakers. After his speech, Durbin held a question-and-answer session and took a tour of the bookstore. The speeches were unrelated to campaign efforts for the upcoming Nov. 4 election.

Bridges said Durbin’s visit was pleasant and that he seemed excited to be paying another visit to the campus. He said though the law will negatively impact bookstore revenue initially, they are supportive of his efforts.

University Spokesman Tom Hardy said Durbin made plans with Hogan’s office for his visit to the University a couple of days in advance. He has not scheduled appearances at other bookstores at the Urbana campus.

“I come to visit the University very often,” Durbin said. “I love this campus.”

After his appearance on campus, Durbin said he will travel to other Illinois universities. He added that there are no specific plans as to which universities and campuses he will visit.

Hardy said Hogan met with Durbin to express his support of his efforts to make students’ expenses less burdensome.