Admin and students on side for laptop program

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By Wendy Glauser

After two years of negotiations, information technology management administration and student representatives have agreed to implement curriculum changes for a controversial mandatory laptop program.

Now they are preparing to present the changes to the highest level of the university — the board of governors — for final approval in January 2002.

There, university administrators will likely approve the program, which will require incoming ITM students starting next fall to lease laptop computers for between $1,400 and $1,600 each year.

“More and more ITM consultants in industry are using laptops,” said course union president Nashaud Jamani. “It is ever needed to have a program to teach us how to use them.”

Kenneth Grant, director of the program, also thinks the computers are necessary to prepare students for work, but said it is unfortunate they are so expensive.

The administration hopes to raise money in order to drive down the overall cost and create additional bursaries for students in need.

Grant said this is important “so we don’t get a change in the demographic of the students that favours the [wealthy].”

Jamani, who has worked with administrators to ensure students’ concerns about the pricey program are addressed, said cost remains an issue.

“Being an OSAP student, if I am coming into this program and it’s going up $1,600 more, I have a concern with that,” said Jamani. “Our approach is to find ways to solve that.”

Cost is also a major for RyeSACers who worry about deregulation and rising tuition costs.

“What we’re missing here is the picture of moving [financial] responsibility of computers and technology from the university and program to the students,” said Alex Lisman, RyeSAC’s v.p. education.

RyeSAC is also calling for a referendum before the decision is made to make students lease the laptops.

But the ITM course union says they are satisfied with their decision-making involvement and want RyeSAC to work with them.

“How can they say they’re representing students when they haven’t even consulted the course union?” Jamani asked.

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