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  #11  
Old 07-18-2007, 12:46 PM
Mike Richichi's Avatar
Mike Richichi Mike Richichi is offline
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I'm sure there are students who get through 4 years of Drew barely using the library. Should they get a discount? What if you don't join any clubs? What if you don't play sports? Aren't you paying for that too? Just because it's not a line item doesn't mean you're not paying for it.

The reason we require a computer (and to be fair, at this point we do have a process for applying for exceptions, but we only approve a handful a year because most student computers aren't similar enough to the Drew laptop) is because we don't provide student computing labs the way that other schools do. Based on reseach, we'd have to provide about 500 lab computers to do what other schools do. Besides actually costing about the same or more when you factor in staffing, furniture, upgrades, repairs, etc., we simply don't have the program space available for this many computer labs. The laptop program means we're distributing that space all over campus, wherever students use their laptops. It also means they have 24/7 access to the computers, and without the expense and security concerns of 24/7 labs.

Faculty can require laptop use without as much concern over what computers students will bring in, and what they can do. Now, not as many faculty as I would like are taking real advantage of that, and to be fair the differential there is less than it used to be, but there's still times when you just want to know something will work and we're providing that. Also, by having mandatory hardware protection, and a helpdesk and support staff trained in these laptops and their configurations, we can focus a bit more on issues, and deal with systemic issues when they arise (and yes, we do have issues with specific parts on specific models at times, and since we have so many of them, we can identify them with the vendor and do things like get advance replacements to help with turnaround time.)

In any required fee situation there will be people who feel they don't use the service and thus shouldn't be required to pay the fee. The difference here is that we had to change the program from a part of tuition to a "purchase" due to reasons outside of technology. If it were just part of tuition it wouldn't be seen the same way. It basically works out to $400 a semester for 4 semesters. Many students spend more than that on textbooks in a semester. And the cost of the computer is factored into the cost of attendance for financial aid purposes.
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  #12  
Old 07-18-2007, 08:40 PM
Andrew W. Cranisky
 
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I'm probably fighting a losing battle here, as I'm sure this is a line of defense you're quite set in and aren't about to rethink on account of some young upstart like me. Nevertheless, I have a few questions that might help me understand this system:

1) Obviously, in this day and age, it's important for every college student to have immediate access to a computer for schoolwork. Why couldn't you simply require every student to have a laptop of some kind when they enter Drew, instead of forcing a certain one upon us? (Now I know we're allowed to apply for an exception, but as you said, they're rarely granted.) You could still continue offering the Drew laptop for anyone who wanted it, and the rest of us would be free to compute as we liked. You said yourself that few professors take advantage of having a standardized laptop, and I'm at a loss to even think how they would. Could you provide instances where having a standardized computer is absolutely necessary?

2) Why are so many other schools able to allow students to use whatever laptop they like? Simply because they have space around for computer labs?

3) Why would Drew need to get 500 more computers if they did away with the laptop program? Do you honestly believe that there are that many kids who would not have a laptop if they weren't required to, or is there some sort of law that mandates a certain ratio of computers to students?

4) Finally (and this is more of an observation than a question), I'm afraid your reasoning of "What if kids don't use the library?" doesn't make a lot of sense. What university doesn't have a library, or sports teams, or clubs? Not all universities, however, make you buy a certain laptop. That is completely Drew's decision, and I'm certain it's something that you could change if you cared to.

Thanks for your time.
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