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OSU Student Creates Art Project Exploring Textbook Waste

Oregon State University student Kyle Fosdick removed pages from 10-12 textbooks, sewed the pages together and hung them from a tree in the Memorial Union quad Tuesday morning.

Fosdick, a senior majoring in fine arts, collected these textbooks from previous classes he and his friends have taken at OSU. These textbooks were out-of-date and could not be sold back to the OSU Beaver Store.

The display, Fosdick’s final project for professor Michael Boonstra’s sculpture course, was created to bring awareness to the wastefulness of textbook use.

When students must buy the latest version of a book for a course, older versions go unused. Fosdick takes this concept further and concludes that the university or its professors promote that older versions lack the ability to provide the reader with proper information.

“This knowledge is useless,” Fosdick said.

However, these particular textbook pages will not be part of the flippant wastefulness that most textbooks end up contributing to, Fosdick said.

James Cassidy, a professor in the crop and soil science department, saw Fosdick’s display Tuesday and reached out to the art student. Cassidy and Fosdick plan to compost the art in the composting area behind Withycombe Hall.

“It’s an interesting completion for the project,” Cassidy said. “Everything returns to the soil.”

When Cassidy saw the art, he was taken aback.

“It was sort of disarming,” Cassidy said. “I walked across the soil to it, because I wanted to experience it. I could just see how fragile it was.”

Cassidy plans to show his soil class the stages of decomposing pages winter and spring terms.

Like Cassidy, passersby in the quad were also intrigued by the display.

Jill Irvine, a freshman in merchandising management, saw the display Tuesday, but didn’t know what it was. After finding out more about the piece Wednesday, Irvine liked the concept of bringing awareness to the wasted textbooks.

Another passerby, Logan Taylor, a junior double majoring in business and sustainability, agreed with composting the art and its message.

“I think it’s really cool,” Taylor said. “The university should pay attention to it.”

Connecting with Fosdick’s message, Taylor said that he, too, has a pile of unused textbooks in his house. He said the display made a “bold statement.”

The OSU Beaver Store academic materials manager, James Howard, said the project is “very interesting.”

Howard appreciated the message and said the OSU Beaver Store supports public art.

However, for clarification, Howard wanted to make known the nonprofit’s place in the textbook world.

“The store does not choose what books to use,” Howard said. “There are a variety of factors that goes into play.”

OSU professors and publishers choose which textbooks to use, and the OSU Beaver Store orders them, according to Howard. If a professor does not adopt an older version, then there is no value to buying back that book from previous students.

In addition to this, if the store’s third-party collaborators do not want or use the book, the OSU Beaver Store doesn’t buy it back from students.

Howard suggested other routes students can take when selling back old textbooks. Students can sell books to each other or make use of the numerous avenues available on the Internet.

The OSU Beaver Store also collects books of “no value” and will send them to Better World Books, an online organization that was founded in 2002.

This organization collects these books to donate or fund literacy initiatives worldwide, according to the Better World Books’ website.

Fosdick began working on his project during week one of fall term.

The pages will hang in the quad until Friday — barring adverse weather that might affect the material’s stability.

Megan Campbell

Managing and news editor

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