College Students Must Buy Notebooks?

What began as a class project that Indiana State University students themselves created has turned into a monster of an issue that has both students and faculty divided. At stake: Should students entering the university in Fall 2006 be required to buy or lease laptops — at a price of $400 per semester?

Either ISU’s development office and other administrators thought they’d capitalize on this idea (now known as the “laptop initiative”) to bring in a few thousand more bucks to the school each year, or the students came up with a master plan that will increase incentives to attend ISU.

Proponents of the plan argue that requiring freshmen to buy or lease laptops will increase their awareness of the business world and allow them the opportunities to use a laptop, as they will after they graduate, therefore being more prepared for the “work world.”

Others disagree, realizing that $400 per semester (as opposed to the current technology fee of $52) translates to a whopping $3,200 over four years. That’s a lot of money to sink into buying a laptop, when there are cheaper notebooks to be had for well under a thousand dollars.

And there’s pressure on everyone for another reason, too: The school must make a decision by mid-April so the information about the “new initiative” would be published in student brochures delivered to high-school seniors this fall. Because the brochures must go to press by mid-April, they’ve got to make a pretty fast decision.

Some ISU faculty members declare the $400 per semester deal “has no validity” and that they “don’t know the cost yet.” And though the faculty would also receive the laptops, they would not be required to use them.

And even with a voting body comprised of the Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association, one has to ask: Is this democracy?

Maybe that will be the next class project.

Update – College laptops now mandatory?

By Catherine Van Herrin

Saturday, March 05, 2005