Students to fight costly mandatory laptops

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By Stephanie Cesca

The ITM course union has mobilized its troops for the latest battle in a campaign against mandatory laptop computers for future first-year students.

A new committee of concerned Information Technology Management students was formed late last week to protect future ITM students from a proposal which would raise tuition fees by $1,600 each year.

In addition, the course union council added three new positions to help strengthen the students’ voice.

If the proposal is passed, incoming ITM students would be required to lease a computer each year beginning in September, 2001.

Thus far, the proposal has passed three administrative levels. To become mandatory, the proposal will have to be passed by an academic standards committee and by academic council.

Although course union president Wayne Au Yeung agreed that mandatory laptops may make the program more attractive to future students, he said the cost is too overwhelming.

“I identify with the student that is able to do the work and may not be able to afford it,” he said.

In addition, Yeung said there has been too little student input in the decision-making process, which he says will change.

Petitions against the compulsory program will be circulating throughout the department this week.

The new committee will also be speaking with administration to ensure that if the proposal does pass, there will be measures in place to offset some of the costs.

ITM director Kenneth Grant said he understands student concerns about costs, but feels the benefits of having laptops outweigh any disadvantages.

“We think it’s a good idea for the curriculum and the students,” he said.

Grant also said there is the possibility that, if the proposal is passed, bursaries would be available to offset the costs for students in financial need.

But some students say that’s not good enough.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Filip Krkivoc, a second-year ITM student. “They are transferring the payment of the hardware to us.”

Althought Frkovic won’t be affected by the new program, he said it was necessary to stand up for future students.

Frkovic is also concerned the computer labs, which current students rely on, will be neglected and become outdated it all new student are leasing laptops.

But Grant said that wouldn’t be the case, as the labs are constantly being upgraded.

Although some students are mad they haven’t been consulted about the proposal, Grant said the program has done its best to encourage student involvement.

“It doesn’t mean they make the decisions, but it means they have input on the decisions,” he said.

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