Shipping setback creates untimely inconvenience

Shipping setback creates untimely inconvenience

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

Price of collegiate textbooks is a common source of discontent for students across campus. However, when those books are not available for purchase it poses a new challenge.

Shortly before the beginning of the fall semester, textbooks from at least 38 courses were lost in transit by the United Parcel Service (UPS). The shipping company found a portion of the lost payload but the bulk of the books had to be re-ordered.

A high priority email was sent on Aug. 12 to all faculty members by Darris Crear, operations coordinator for the Contra Costa College Bookstore, explaining the circumstances to instructors who may be affected by the shipping error.

“It happened a couple of weeks before the semester began,” Crear said. “I had to re-order most the shipment and as of now the books are incrementally trickling in.”

The notification also explained that rush orders have been placed to re-order books for some courses, but classes that use specialty books will take longer to replace because those books are special orders.

The bulk of the books are for English courses, but classes affected range from administration of justice to psychology and math.

“They kept telling me to check back in the Bookstore on Friday but the books weren’t there,” psychology major Latifah Mills said. “I have the book now, but it took two and a half weeks. I had to keep going back to check because there was no notification letting students know that the books had arrived.”

The majority of students questioned by an Advocate reporter said they prefer to purchase textbooks online, taking advantage of student-centric systems like Amazon Prime or Chegg.

To prevent students from falling behind the 18-week class directives explained in course syllabi, instructors have implemented creative ways to keep everyone in class on the same page.

Health education professor Miguel Johnson said, “I’m pushing forward to cover the material in class the best I can. I make sure there are books on reserve in the Library, and I have a lottery system in place so students can rotate the books I have available in class. 

“So far I haven’t been receiving any emails from students with any complaints or problems.”

For returning instructors adjusting is not that difficult. But some new, or part-time, instructors may not understand the difficulties in maintaining class pace and integrity.

“Psychology books were a week and a half late. La Raza studies is also delayed,” nutrition major Catherine Guevara said.

“I’m going to get books from Barnes & Noble, but what about the students with financial aid that have to buy books here?”

Students receiving federal aid are mandated to buy books from the campus Bookstore.

The culinary arts department is among the courses listed with undelivered books, but as of now the missing textbooks have not posed an instructional problem.

“Our students have so much to buy when a semester begins. So because they have to buy things like uniforms, (and knives) we tell them to purchase the textbooks last,” culinary arts instructor Elizabeth Schwarz said. “So far we haven’t been affected at all.”

Thus far, students and instructors are adjusting to the inconvenience and making the best of an adverse situation.

“I post notes and do the best I can in class to explain things,” Johnson said. “But it will be difficult to maintain if this continues longer than about four weeks.”

Crear said UPS was not able to give an exact date as to when the delivery will be shipped in full.