Editorial: Laptop requirement a no-no published on Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The State Press offices were finally equipped with wireless Internet this semester.

We were stoked until we realized that less than 10 percent of our staff own laptops.

We sit at 40-year-old desks cranking out this newspaper each day on our iMacs. Hey, at least we're not waiting in line at the Computing Commons.

So the thought of the University providing additional financial aid funds to help us score sweet laptops through the proposed 1:1 technology plan, which ASU tech officer Adrian Sannier is working to implement, left us drooling.

That is, until we noticed the part of this new downtown campus deal that would make those oh-so-awesome portable computers required.

Students at ASU are already shelling out hundreds of dollars each semester on books -- and that's after dropping several thousands on tuition. To add the cost of a new laptop computer, even at a subsidized rate, could simply be too much.

What if some students are still paying off the credit card debt they owe for their desktop computers?

Are two computers really necessary?

Another consideration that the administration has yet to tackle is the software required for each major.

Computer programs for those in the architecture program, one of the colleges relocating to the downtown campus, are expensive.

But students majoring in programs that rely less heavily on computers -- such as nursing or English -- would only be using their laptops to write papers.

Why would students who will just be writing papers be required to have a laptop when they could just as easily write the paper at home on the computer they already own?

We're not sure, either.

Part of being a public institution of education is that education is equally available to all. That's one of the wonderful things about having computer labs on campus.

Sure, waiting in line at the Computing Commons is boring and frustrating during finals, but students wait in that line for a reason.

Not giving students access to a computer lab with all of the necessary software will place financial stress on them and make the cost of their education much higher than that of other University programs.

Laptops are wonderful tools, and if students can afford them, great. But don't force students to miss out on a quality education simply because they can't front the funds for a computer.

Don't get us wrong. We love laptops, and we invite ASU to hook us up with some high-speed G4 iBooks (maybe with DVD burners) -- but just don't require us to buy them.

We're broke enough as it is.

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