Mandatory laptops may come to SDSU through BOR plan

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

The South Dakota Board of Regents said they want to move forward with a plan that would require all students at South Dakota public universities to purchase laptops at the Oct. 29 Brookings town hall meeting.

The Mobile Computing Environment would provide funding to all regental universities to upgrade infrastructure for wireless Internet access and would require all six institutions to mandate that students purchase laptops to use during their academic career.

“The world is coming to wireless laptops,” said Harvey Jewett, president of the Regents, “and our students need to learn to live with that. It’s going to happen.”

Jewett said that according to research the Regents have looked at, over 90 percent of students already have laptops.

“I got the answer I expected,” Sam Nelson, Students’ Association state and local government chairman, said. “I feel like this program is on the horizon, but as a student representative, I don’t feel it’s in the best interest of SDSU students at this time.”

Dakota State University in Madison already requires its students to purchase laptops, and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City is in its second year of converting to an all-wireless campus, although Nelson said the students he spoke to at SDSM&T told him the process was not going as smoothly as anticipated.

Some departments at SDSU, including nursing, graphic design and biology, already require students to purchase a laptop chosen by the department.

According to Alex Brown, Students’ Association president, SA, the department of student affairs and the South Dakota Student Federation are not in favor of the part of the plan that would require every student to purchase a laptop. He said that the groups would like the Regents to allow for each university to decide individually whether or not to mandate laptop usage.

The Regents also discussed plans for changes to the Opportunity Scholarship program. They plan to change the required credit hours from 15 per semester to 12, the legal definition of a full-time student. Jewett said the change would be beneficial to students in some majors that only allow students to take 12 credit hours each semester and students who study abroad.

Several university and community members asked the Regents about upcoming construction projects. The Regents plan to request $75 million through a bond issue to pay for several new buildings across the six public universities, but their highest priority is the creation of the Integrated Sciences Complex, which will consist of a new $30 million building and a complete renovation of Shepherd Hall into laboratory space. The Regents have already secured $24 million in bonds for the complex, which is estimated to cost $48 million.

Robert “Tad” Perry, executive director of the Regents, spoke about SDSU’s move into the world of research. He said the state of South Dakota currently spends $86.50 per capita on research while North Dakota spends $236.40.

T. Denny Sanford’s recent donation to the former Sioux Valley Hospital and the creation of a Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the Homestake Mine in Lead will help boost South Dakota’s involvement in research. Jewett said Gov. Rounds will fund new research projects initially. South Dakota has no history of profiting from research, so it would be hard to say how long it would take to see a profit from projects.