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Graceanne Hoback Is Leading the Initiative To Make Textbooks Affordable at FSU

With the loss of the Bright Futures textbook stipend last year, the issue of textbook affordability is a hot topic in Florida. Lucky for Florida State University, Graceanne Hoback, the President of FSU Student PIRGs (Public Interest Research Group), is working hard to ensure that textbook costs are not a burden for students. This is what she had to say!

Her Campus (HC): Introduce yourself! What is your name, year, and major, and what are your future aspirations and involvements?

Graceanne Hoback (GH): Hi! I’m Graceanne Hoback. I’m a second-year student here at Florida State, double majoring in Political Science and Sociology. I am currently the FSU PIRG President, PIRGs Textbook Affordability Campaign Coordinator, a PIRG Civic Leadership Fellow, a member of the Women’s Student Union, a member of Phi Alpha Delta and a member of the Tallahassee League of Women Voters. After graduating I plan to attend law school and hope to practice education law. As a lawyer, I’d aim to attack persistent educational disparities by serving the community and working for a nonprofit organization. 

HC: That’s amazing! Tell me more about PIRG. How is PIRG relevant to FSU?

GH: Student PIRGs is a national organization established by PIRG that aims to discover, train and empower young student activists. In practice, Student PIRGs exist to advocate for policy change, raise awareness and ultimately, ensure the student’s voice is heard amongst decision makers. PIRG at FSU is a branch of Student PIRGs and serves as a non-profit, non-partisan activist organization on campus, running campaigns like the “New Voters Project,” “Break Free from Plastics” and “Hunger and Homelessness.”

HC: What makes FSU Student PIRGs different from other organizations on campus?

GH: FSU student PIRGs stands out from other clubs on campus because we are truly a community-serving organization. We approach our mission largely through the avenue of policy change both on campus and in the community (locally, regionally and federally).

HC: How did you get involved with FSU’s PIRG club? What does your involvement look like presently?

GH: I started with PIRG during my first semester of freshman year because I loved the mission behind their Textbook Affordability Campaign. It perfectly aligned with the passion I have for community service action. I began as a volunteer and eventually stepped into the role of Textbook Affordability Campaign Coordinator by the spring of my freshman year. I am now happily still in my role as Textbook Affordability Campaign Coordinator and am also the President of this amazing organization. I am nothing but honored to be the President of an organization that has such an impressive line-up of student activists and leaders. The efforts of both our campaign coordinators and interns are certainly unmatched.

HC: Wow! Tell me more about PIRG’s “Free and Affordable Textbooks” campaign. What is the campaign trying to achieve?

GH: PIRGs Textbook Affordability Campaign exists around the nation because of the ever-increasing cost of textbooks and the rising popularity of costly supplemental educational resources like access codes. As it pertains to FSU in particular, the issue of textbook affordability was best recognized following the stripping of the $300 textbook stipend from the Bright Futures scholarship many students receive. The initiative of the textbook affordability campaign centers around FSU fulfilling its promise of equity within Florida State classrooms. By promoting and funding alternatives to products of corrupt textbook markets, the statistic of 2 in 3 college students going without a textbook because of cost can be attacked. In efforts to allow students to reveal their true academic potential, the textbook affordability campaign is striving to bolster the influence and notoriety of Open Educational Resources (OER) on FSU’s campus.

HC: What has the Textbook Affordability Campaign already achieved?

GH: The Textbook Affordability campaign is centered around informing individuals about the proposed solution to inequality caused by textbook costs. In efforts to open the eyes of decision-makers on campus, the campaign has formed relationships with the Faculty Senate, the Provost Office and the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. In working with these various campus outlets, we are hopefully paving the way for greater funding and recognition of the Textbook Affordability Initiative Grant offered to professors.

HC: What is the Textbook Affordability team up to this year? What is your number one goal for the campaign this year?

GH: This year, the Textbook Affordability team has welcomed a new string of impressive interns and we are currently conducting grassroots work to gain insight on the student body’s experience with open educational resources and textbook costs through survey techniques. The top priority of the campaign this year is to assist the OER Initiative Coalition of FSU’s library in drafting and presenting the new faculty award for Textbook Affordability efforts. We also hope to assemble a statewide campaign initiative targeted at textbook affordability to bring to the Florida Board of Governors.

HC: Have you had any events for textbooks thus far? Are there any events coming up? 

GH: We just had a great tabling event in Strozier where students participated in a “guess the textbook cost” game and we will be tabling in Strozier again on Oct. 25 from 2-4 p.m. with a “spooky” theme in an effort to acquire more student testimonials regarding experiences with open educational resources and textbook costs.

HC: Tell me more about what members of the FSU community can do to support your campaign.

GH: There are so many opportunities to help with our campaign! For students, faculty and administrators I first recommend becoming familiar with the solutions to textbook affordability and their appearances on our campus. This includes open educational resources, e-textbooks and course reserves. Beyond this, students, it is important to share your experiences. We often have students come up while we are tabling and tell us they don’t buy textbooks and struggle in class because of it. It has now become our team’s job to express these sentiments to those who are responsible for crafting the conditions in which students are forced to struggle in class. As for faculty and administration, I ask that you be open to working with the OER Initiative Coalition of the library in their efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of the solution and gain funding for a paid faculty position that addresses textbook affordability efforts on FSU’s campus. 

If you are interested in getting involved with FSU Student PIRGs or the Textbook Affordability Campaign, there is a place for you! The organization has weekly general body meetings that take place Mondays at 12 p.m. If you have any further questions you can contact Graceanne at graceannehoback@gmail.com or follow FSU Student PIRGs on Instagram here!

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My name is Alexis Dorman and I am a second-year, honors student at Florida State University. I am pursuing a dual degree in International Affairs and Political Science, with minors in Chinese and Education. For the past 8 years, I've spent my time volunteering, participating in a variety of clubs and extracurricular activities, and making the most of my educational career. I am passionate about international affairs, political science, current events, and diplomacy. Aside from my academic interests I enjoy writing, art, music, and movies!
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