Opinion | Staff Editorials

A declaration of print-ependence

Imagine the scene. 

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, CC ’76 and president of the Republic of Estonia, arrives with full entourage on College Walk for the World Leaders Forum. As the esteemed president strides up the steps toward Low Library, preparing to shake hands with University President Lee Bollinger, one of his aides comes to a startling realization—he forgot to print out the president’s speech!

Realizing the magnitude of his error, the hapless staffer grabs the nearest Columbia student and begs for help: “Where can I find a printer? Quickly, I’m in a hurry.”

“Well, first you need to send the document to a printer. Do you have a UNI? We should probably send it to Butler, Kent, Lewisohn, and Avery just to be sure. Half of those won’t be working, but if we hurry we might be able to get one. How much time do you have?”

And with that, the poor aide realizes his career has come to an end.

Such a scenario, while unlikely, illustrates a truth that every Columbia student finds self-evident at the start of each new school year when we’re to print out a huge reading or a paper due in five minutes: the printing infrastructure on campus is utterly inadequate.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary to air our problems with the printing situation, a decent respect to the opinions of the Editorial Board requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to the complaint. We set them down here to state fully the extent of our grievances; let facts be submitted candidly. 

First and foremost, the printers malfunction incessantly—like a less-violent game of Russian roulette, the hope that your desired printer is functioning always comes with the faint possibility of utter disaster. Even if the printer is nominally working, there might be a shortage of paper. Or worse, there might be a malfunction in the printing process that causes too large a reduction in our precious print quota of 100 sheets per week. Solving these problems requires enlisting CUIT’s assistance, a difficult task because they can take hours, if not days, to respond. 

In short, the printers are one of the the worst parts of our day-to-day life, even more so than pop quizzes or all-nighters. They possess the ability, at any moment, to capriciously and petulantly refuse to work. That is why printers are the most dangerous animal.

There are certainly short-term solutions that should be implemented; we petition in the most humble terms for the redress of our problems. An insufficient quantity of printers can be rectified by purchasing a few more printers. (A university that is completing a $6 billion capital campaign cannot beg poverty when it comes to adding a couple dozen printers to the Morningside campus.) CUIT can implement simpler means of contacting support (maybe a button on the printer screen) and work to improve its general response time. The ability to cancel jobs while printing should be added to the software.

But it is apparent that the problems are too large to fix completely with patches and tweaks. The current NINJa system was initiated in 2001 to replace the previous system, which was nicknamed “Jake.” NINJa stands for “NINJa is Not Jake,” and we suggest that Columbia abolish this vastly outdated system and replace it with BATMAN: Better And Technologically More Advanced NINJas.

It is time to totally dissolve the bonds between students and NINJa, and to provide the capacity to print anywhere. Even Princeton has discovered the wonders of being able to send a document to the cloud and, with a simple tap of your ID, print your file anywhere on campus. If that group of orange-clad murderers of Alexander Hamilton can manage it, why can’t we?

A dozen years have passed since the tyranny of NINJa was visited upon us students. Today, we call for its improvement and eventual removal. Until that time, the most we can do is rely on the protection of the divine god of printers—and pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our ever-shrinking print quotas.

To respond to this staff editorial, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com. 


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dq posted on

this is great

beyond confused posted on

so close, yet so far along in the evolution of a species...

Orli posted on

BATMAN. Love it. Amen!

Anonymous posted on