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MAT: Movement for Affordable Textbooks.

Collected textbook-related resources for faculty, students and administrators.

What is MAT?

MAT, or Movement for Affordable Textbooks, is made up of concerned faculty, students, and administrators who are working together to address the high cost of textbooks and other course materials for Vassar students. MAT came out of the Engaged Pluralism Initiative (EPI) Working Group and is now an Engaged Pluralism Working Group.

Among its recent accomplishments, MAT members have been gathering information and raising awareness on the Vassar campus.  Accomplishment to date include:

  • The creation of a MAT website to collect and disseminate information to students demystifying the financial awards and textbooks and highlighting options for Vassar students to access and obtain their textbooks:
  • While statistics regarding the impact of the high cost of textbooks is well documented in the media, MAT created and launched a student survey in Spring 2021 and again in Spring 2023 to better understand the impact on Vassar students.

One finding was a reliance by some students on the Libraries Reserve departments to gain access to textbook readings.  As a result of the survey, MAT encouraged the Libraries to continue the Textbook Lending Program in which faculty request that textbooks be purchased for the Library collection and placed on Library Reserve.

  • Awareness has been raised through:
  • Presentations and discussions in various venues with students and faculty:  Library Committee, Chair and Directors meeting, EPI summer student institution presentations by co-chairs Christopher Raymond and Sarah Canino, July 2021 and again in July 2022.
  • Talking About Teaching session was held in January 2022 to focus on this issue.
  • The MAT syllabi statement, endorsed by the Dean of the Faculty, sent out to Vassar faculty members to share with the students in their classes.

  • A link to the MAT website in the student personna in the Vassar App. 

For the academic year 2023/24 MAT members decided to focus on 4 projects and members selected one or more of the 4 project subgroups. Each project subgroup will be meeting independently to tackle work toward that project.   In November the entire group will reconvene to share progress and brainstorm.  The projects:

  1. Users: data-gathering subgroup: which will look at crafting an annual student survey to collect data on textbook usage at Vassar College 
  2. Textbooks at Vassar: data-gathering subgroup: which will look at the cost of textbooks assigned at Vassar College by subject
  3. OER subgroup:  which will look at online educational resources and ways to support Vassar faculty in the creation of online textbooks
  4. Sources of textbook funding subgroup: which will explore viable funding sources for helping Vassar students purchase their textbooks.

Now co-chaired by Sarah Pearlman, Elizabeth Salmon and Pambanisha Whaley, MAT meets to plan initiatives. MAT is looking for new members! If you are interested in working with other members of the Vassar community to find solutions to the high cost of course materials at Vassar, contact one of the committee members below to express your interest:

Members for the Spring 2024 semester include:

Sarah Pearlman

Professor and Chair, Department of Economics; MAT Co-Chair

Elizabeth Salmon

Social Science Librarian, Vassar College Libraries, MAT Co-Chair

Pambanisha Whaley

Head Users Services, Vassar College Libraries, MAT Co-Chair

Mary Ellen Czesak

Advisor to the Class of 2025; Senior Lecturer and Laboratory Coordinator, Biology Department,

Lioba Gerhardi

Dean of First-Year Students and Advisor to the Class of 2027; Visiting Assistant Professor, German Studies Department

Simon Hoellerbauer

Post doc fellow

Jose Iona

Textbooks, VC BookStore

Bianca Keesler

House Advisor for Cushing & Noyes Houses; Assistant Director of Community Expectations

Michelle Quock

Director, Transitions Program

Izzy Rico

Office of Sustainability Coordinator for Data and Programs

Emma Ritter

Senior Assistant Director of Student Financial Services

Nicholas Sanders

Class of '27

Catherine Tan

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

Tianyu Xiong

EP student intern