Mandatory laptops on hold

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By Wency Leundy

Future Information Technology Management students can keep their cash for at least one more year now that a controversial laptop proposal that sparked student protest has been put on ice.

A proposed program that would have seen incoming ITM students pay a mandatory $1,600 laptop fee each year has been delayed after an academic standards committee meeting last Thursday.

“I’m disappointed but not desolate,” said ITM director Kenneth Grant, who feels confident the program will be approved by 2002. “All of the same things we wanted to do, we now have more time to do them.”

Naushad Jamani, ITM department council secretary, said the plan was not ready to be passed to academic council, the final administrative body in charge of allowing tuition increases.

“There were a lot of unanswered questions,” Jamani said.

Wayne Au Yeung, president of the ITM student union, said the academic standards committee decided there wasn’t enough time to implement the mandatory laptops by September, 2001.

He said they wouldn’t have been able to change the course calendar and class curriculums in time to meet next year’s deadlines.

But Jamani said one of the main concerns was that not enough students were consulted about the proposal.

On Nov. 1, the 18-member ITM department council voted 17-1 in favour of making laptops mandatory, but only three votes were from students.

And Jamani said part-time students were not represented at all in the ITM department council.

“Students didn’t have a voice in it,” Jamani said. “We have to make sure students don’t get screwed.”

Another concern about the mandatory laptop proposal was whether students would be able to afford extra fees.

Jamani said he would have been in favour of the proposal if fees didn’t limit student access into the program.

These concerns were raised in recent weeks by signing petitions to pressure administration into rejecting the mandatory laptop proposal.

Some students, however, strongly supported the proposal.

Simon Plashkes, and ITM student and voting member of the department council, said he was in favour of making laptops mandatory.

He said the ITM program cannot function properly without them.

“We need certain tools,” he said. “Right now, nobody is learning proper IT [skills] … It’s like going into a photography course without a camera.”


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