Professor making $250,000 in tenured salary, asking students to buy $200 textbook he wrote in order to supplement salary.
While many freshmen have already bought their textbooks from the student book store in an eager attempt to show off their preparedness and impress their professors, many of the upperclassmen have wisely decided to sit and wait for whether their professors are actually going to use the books listed on their syllabus.
However, for one group of 300 Berkeley students taking an intro to chemistry course, (CHEM 43) there was no question of whether or not they should buy their textbooks ahead of time.
Two weeks before class was set to begin, Professor Berns sent an email to his students requesting that they purchase the textbook required for his course ahead of time so that he could begin teaching from it immediately. He also explained that there would be a pop quiz based on the textbook the first day to ensure their cooperation.
While the freshmen (who were excited to be finally communicating with a member Berkeley faculty!) immediately rushed out to buy Professor Bern’s $200 textbook Chemistry is Cool: If I can Chemistry than So Can You! 43 ½ Special Limited Edition, others were more reluctant about purchasing such a pricey book.
Alice Lin, a sophomore, managed to snag a used copy of Chemistry is Cool for $120 by scouring sources such as Amazon, Chegg and the textbook price comparison site BigWords. Greg Stan, another sophomore, managed to snag a copy of the textbook for the comparatively low price of $115. As students budgets were already stretched thin by the ridiculous housing prices in the Bay area, some students such as Stan, have been forced to take drastic measures in order to pay for books.
“In order to pay for my textbooks, I decided to forgo buying food for a week. I survived by eating my pet rabbit Lola and her three rabbit children, Twinky, Binky and Bugs. I had them with a side dish of salad I was saving for them to eat. ” said Stan, before bursting into tears.
[pullquote]“In order to pay for my textbooks, I decided to forgo buying food for a week. I survived by eating my pet rabbit Lola and her three rabbit children, Twinky, Binky and Bugs. I had them with a side dish of salad I was saving for them to eat. ” said Stan, before bursting into tears.[/pullquote]
Though older editions of the textbook were online for as low as $80, Professor Berns specifically forbade students from purchasing older editions of the book, threatening to drop any students on the spot that he saw carrying anything older than the 42 ½ edition, citing the fact that in the latest editions, the different font that the publisher used would lend a dramatically different context to the reading.
When questioned about the ethics of forcing students to pay outrageous sums for a textbook that he wrote for use in his class, Professor Berns put down the map of the island he was planning on buying and said simply “Knowledge is priceless.”