Proposal unnecessary for SDSU


Editorial Board

issue: The Board of Regents are pushing for the mandatory laptop program to start by 2010. In order to accomplish this, their proposal would add $7 per credit hour to student fees.

The Board of Regents has come up with a new proposal for mandating laptops for every student on campus.

While some may agree that having a laptop for every student on campus is an interesting goal, the problems come in when you ask, “Where is the money going to come from?” During this tough time in the economy with the legislature and Gov. Mike Rounds telling everyone they are going to have to “tighten their belts,” it seems fairly certain that the BOR isn’t going to get the needed amount of funds from that direction. Where else do they have to turn to? The students.

The BOR proposes an increase of $7 per credit hour to help pay for technical support services surrounding these laptops, paying for faculty laptops and training and the maintenance of the network and the computers. This would not pay for the laptops for the students themselves. Each student would have a choice between two or three computers from the school and would have to pay for them out of pocket.

The economy is bad right now. Rounds recently put a freeze on hiring in the executive branch of state government. On Monday, the BOR said in a press release that they will be joining with the executive branch agencies to “evaluate spending approaches in the coming months.” Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry said that they needed to redouble efforts “to ensure the careful use of public resources available to us.”

Increasing the cost to students and spending money in this way is not “careful use.” A survey reported by the Argus Leader on Nov. 24 said 81 percent of students graduating from South Dakota colleges in 2007 emerged with substantial debt, compared to 59 percent nationwide. As for students leaving SDSU – one of the cheapest Division I institutions in the region – 72 percent had loans, with an average debt of $20,804. This proposal by the BOR would only add to that price students have to pay just for wanting to get a higher education.

Another problem with the proposal is the blunt and vaguely written language. Although names have been thrown around, there’s little discussion about what brand of laptop the campus will be given. Also, with the number of students switching to different majors, do those wanting a change need to change laptops? Is it a matter of installing new software?

The fact is, students are already able to buy laptops from the school. There are also several computer labs around campus that students can use. If everyone is given a laptop, all the money spent in the last couple years updating the labs would have been a waste.

Campus-wide Internet – one of the promises in the proposal – is a great goal, and most people would not be opposed to an increase of a dollar to their student fees in order to help pay for that. Other than that, however, there is little in the proposal that anyone has stepped forward to support or will likely do so for in the future.

Stance: Now is not the time to be increasing costs and spending money in a way that has no guarantee of clearly benefiting students. The Board of Regents should further research the issue and take the time that is needed to work out a solution that benefits each individual institution.