By Brittany Wilson, Co-Editor-In-Chief, The Whetstone
On his first day of class, junior Dakota Smith went to the Wesley College Bookstore to buy the textbooks he needed for the semester.
“This was the first semester I’ve had where there wasn’t a single deal that was better on Amazon,” he said. “Now that the bookstore is price matching, I figured I may as well get all of my books there because it’s simpler.”
When he searched the shelves, however, Smith found that the books he needed for several classes were not available.
He was not the only student to have trouble.
The Wesley College Bookstore revised its ordering process this semester in an effort to improve the availability of textbooks to students.
Rather than asking faculty members to send complete lists of books needed for the upcoming semester, the bookstore automatically reordered the books required for each class in previous semesters, unless a professor specified otherwise. This was supposed to limit late ordering and miscommunications between faculty and the bookstore.
But when students went to buy their books for the new semester, many found that their required textbooks were not in stock.
By the time the bookstore realized orders were made before spring class registration was complete—making the class sizes the orders were based on, inaccurate—students had already returned to campus, Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost Dr. Jeffrey Gibson said.
“[They didn’t] recognize that it wasn’t the final number,” he said. “I think a number of books were ordered in tens when there should have been fifteen, twenty, twenty-five.”
Smith said one of them, Pioneers, was the first required reading for his class with Dr. Clack.
“I thought maybe they just ran out of it and they’d be getting it in the next few days,” he said. “Then a week and a half passes and they still haven’t gotten a single one of the books they told us they would.”
Smith said when the book finally arrived in the bookstore, the class was already finished reading it.
Psychology Department Chair and Professor Dr. Jack Barnhardt, whose book orders were unaffected, said he was surprised to hear about the problems.
“I thought it sounded like a really good system,” he said. “It makes a lot of sense—I think it was 90 percent of the books that are ordered are just the same thing as last semester.”
One professor was shocked to find out the books required for some of his classes were not available to students at the bookstore.
“It’s stupid that I have to go in a week before school starts and babysit the bookstore, but that’s what you have to do,” Assistant Professor of Multimedia Communication Benjamin Pingel said.
Junior Raiisha Jefferson said she did not order her textbooks from the bookstore this semester, but she has seen many of her classmates struggle.
“The students have expressed serious concern and frustration because if they couldn’t get the readings done, assignments weren’t getting done, and the last thing they wanted was to get a bad grade for something they couldn’t help,” she said.
Junior Dylan Morris said he had to borrow his professor’s personal copy of one book so he wouldn’t fall behind in class.
“I went in the first week of school on a Tuesday to purchase it, but it wasn’t available,” he said. “They said they should get it in by Friday the same week, but that date was pushed back to Saturday, then Monday, then next week and so on.”
Morris said he missed several assignments before he got the book from his professor.
Smith said the book shortage was a class disruption.
“Professor Greto would be talking about a subject and say, ‘Well, hopefully you guys can read about it before the next class,’ because half the class hadn’t seen what we were talking about in the book,” he said.
Students weren’t the only ones frustrated.
Destynee Roberts said that Dr. Randall Clack was upset to find nine students in his Heroic Dreams course did not have their books on the first day of class.
“He asked some girl to use her phone and called down to the bookstore,” she said. “They said they would have them on Thursday, but Thursday they changed it to Friday, and the next week they were like, ‘I don’t know.’ The girl who sits next to me still hasn’t gotten it.”
Pingel said the books for two of his classes did not arrive until the third week of class.
“It really put us in a bind,” he said. “I hit the ground running in my courses and we start reading right away. I finally just had to email my class and say, I’m sorry, you just need to buy it on Amazon.”
Pingel said the week before classes began, registration numbers for two of his classes increased from about eight to nearly 20.
“I understand it would be hard for [the bookstore] to gauge how much to order, but, at the same time, I need the books that I ordered,” he said. “There should have been at least eight books, but there weren’t even that many.”
Gibson said the bookstore probably had more books on hand for departments like Psychology—Barnhardt said it was unaffected by the mishap — who offer the same courses nearly every semester.
“In the cases where somebody runs the same class back to back, there were probably enough used books or rentals still on hand because they use the same book,” he said. “That’s opposed to somebody who might be teaching mostly different classes in the spring than the fall, in which case they have to do a full order.”
Gibson said the bookstore staff will be taking special precautions to ensure the same mistake will not be made again.
“It was a mess-up,” he said. “This time we are going to work with the bookstore to make certain the order amount is confirmed. We are also going to be working a little more to confirm with individual departments and faculty members the orders as well.”