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Ivy League school eliminates overdue library book fines because they 'stress' out students

Harvard University eliminated overdue library book fines because they cause students too much "stress." A Harvard associate director said that the change will "allow students to devote more time to their research and coursework." (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

College is stressful. Lingering assignments, upcoming exams, and demanding extracurricular activities are enough to stress out even the best students. Now, one of the nation's most prominent Ivy League schools is looking to make the college experience a little less stressful.

According to the Harvard University Crimson student newspaper, the Cambridge, Massachusetts, campus will no longer impose late fees on overdue library books. Currently, students have to pay 50 cents for every day a book is late.

Steven Beardsley, associate director for access services administrative operations and special projects at Harvard University, told the Crimson that the change will "allow students to devote more time to their research and coursework."

Beardsley said that by having no late late fees for library books, it will allow the college to "embrace a 'One Harvard' approach."

We have witnessed firsthand the stress that overdue fines can cause for students. Eliminating standard overdue fines and standardizing loan periods across Harvard’s libraries should help students focus on their scholarship, rather than worrying about renewing library books every 28 days in order to avoid fines.

The Crimson spoke with student Andrés Lopez-Garrido, who is scheduled to graduate in 2018, about the change. Lopez-Garrido said he's on board.

“I had over 100 dollars in overdue fines for books I checked out last summer for a research project, and I completely forgot to return them. I flipped out when I found out, but luckily, I was given a waiver," Lopez-Garrido told the Crimson.

But the change raises questions as to whether the university is actually helping or hurting students.

For example, while late fees will no longer apply to Harvard students, consequences for not returning items on time or not meeting deadlines still apply in the real world. Just ask any working class family struggling to make ends meet who recently had their electricity shut off because they didn't pay the bill on time. Or talk to anyone who has had to shower at a relative's house because they failed to pay their water bill by the due date.

Also, without a financial incentive to return books on time, students might well keep books indefinitely that other students might need for their studies.

The reality of the matter is, whether Harvard University wants to admit it or not, deadlines are still very much applicable in life after college.

While students might not have to face that reality now, the day will eventually come when they will have to start "adulting."

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