While Morgan students are without textbooks, neighboring institutions are ‘doing just fine’


Brianna Taylor

The entrance of the Morgan State University Bookstore.

Rushaad Haward and Brianna Taylor

When junior architecture major Jalon Robinson received a yearly $2,000 book stipend for the Morgan State University Bookstore, he was grateful. Despite his financial advantage, however, he has experienced the frustration of class without textbooks.

Last year, Robinson did not receive his textbook until October, two months after the semester began.

“It was pretty bad because I was forced to buy material from my peers to complete my work which was frustrating,” Robinson said.

Students have entered their fifth week of the semester without the necessary materials for class and the university’s recent partnership with Barnes and Noble may be to blame.

Managed by Barnes and Noble College, the partnership was envisioned as “hassle-free.” Professors would place their book orders in July and materials would arrive early August.

“There are a number of reasons textbooks may not be available for a particular course,” Ron Stevenson, interim director of business and auxiliary services at Morgan said in an email addressed to The MSUSpokesman. “They may be out-of-stock with the textbook vendors, or a change in the professor right before classes started.”

Stevenson said approximately 30% of material is missing from the university bookstore and the management team has begun an investigation to ensure students receive their textbooks.

Several institutions within the area have partnered with Barnes and Noble College including Johns Hopkins University, The University of Maryland, College Park, Howard University, Coppin State University and Loyola University Maryland.

Hopkins, one of the largest institutions in the area, received their textbooks on time.

According to the 2017 Johns Hopkins student records, approximately 22,000 students attend the institution. This number is significantly higher than Morgan’s which has approximately 7,000 students.

Zachary Bryd, Senior Film major at Hopkins said he never heard of a textbook problem at his school because the majority of students do not order books through the university bookstore.

Bryd said if a student does, the process is seamless.

“I think a predominantly white school doesn’t have to worry about stuff like that,” Bryd said.

Larry Little, Hopkins’s bookstore employee said if the store has experienced an order backup, the longest students have waited is one week.

Similar to Hopkins, Howard University, a predominately black institution, has not experienced a major delay in book shipment.

Jaela Stith, a junior biology major at Howard works at her university bookstore. She realized the majority of students buy their textbooks online, separate from her institution.

“It’s more convenient,” Stith said.

Unlike Morgan, Hopkins, Howard and several other institutions within the area,  Towson University partnered with Cengage Unlimited. A system that allows its students to purchase their textbooks through Canvas, the program offers its users a 12-day free trial and a temporary access code to the material. 

Mariam Ajibola, a junior finance major at Towson transferred from Maryland fall 2018. She said she prefers her school’s book system as apposed to Maryland’s.

“Towson’s bookstore is just more manageable,” Ajibola said.

Ajibola said she remembered a semester when Maryland’s book system experienced a four-week backup.

With a system that has delayed students’ semester, many are left frustrated as they aimlessly wait for the situation to be resolved.

“Maybe the bigger story is that a white school doesn’t have to worry about that,” Bryd said.