New computer requirement for incoming JMC students

Lydia Coutré

Macintosh computers are recommended

Beginning in the fall semester of 2010, students in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication must purchase a computer.

Greg Blase, associate director of JMC, said this is the first semester for the “required buy,” and it will only affect incoming students. Freshmen don’t have to step on campus with a computer but will need one by the end of their first year.

“It could be the first semester or maybe even the second semester,” Blase said. “We haven’t decided that yet.”

Students will have the option between Macintosh and PC computers, although Blase said a Mac is recommended. A desktop computer would also meet the requirements, but Blase said he strongly recommends a laptop. Regardless, students must have a computer.

One reason behind the requirement is so the school won’t have to maintain the computer labs as much.

“Basically the idea behind it is that we have a lot of computer labs here and they’re very costly to maintain,” Blase said.

He said it is also more convenient for students and already expected at some universities today.

“I’ve been talking to parents for 25 years about bringing their kids here,” Blase said. “It used to be that they would say, ‘Does my child need a computer?’ But for probably the last seven or eight years they haven’t been saying that. They’re just saying, ‘What kind of computer should my child have?’”

The School of Visual Communication Design has required students to purchase a computer for nine years.

Director of VCD AnnMarie LeBlanc said she hasn’t had many issues getting students to buy computers.

“I’ve never had really strong pushback,” LeBlanc said. “It’s tantamount to buying a series of textbooks.”

VCD students must purchase a Macintosh laptop computer with specific software.

Blase said they would recommend certain software to students depending on their major, but purchasing software is not a requirement. The software will remain on the computer labs in Franklin Hall.

“We’re not going to say you have to have a computer with the software on it,” Blase said. “We’re going to say you can use the labs here, but if you have a computer and you want to do your work elsewhere, you’re going to need this software.”

JMC will “slow down” on labs, but Blase said he doesn’t think they’ll ever go away completely.

“We have high-end labs and we have low-end labs,” Blase said. “Probably the low-end labs we’re not going to replenish. We’ll take the computers from the high-end labs and start moving them down, but when we replace the computers in the high-end labs, we’ll probably do fewer of them.”

LeBlanc said there is one computer lab in the Art Building, which has more “specialized” software for students beyond what they are required to have.

There were more computer labs before the requirements, but cutting back on them has allowed the school to purchase other items for students.

“We’ve simply moved the funding from building many labs and many computers in labs to getting higher-end printing capabilities, maybe some photographic equipment, maybe some video recording equipment,” LeBlanc said.

Thomas Mahon, lead IT user support analyst for VCD, said he thinks every student should have a computer.

“Every student needs to have a computer to just be a student,” Mahon said. “It’s virtually impossible to live a modern student life without some kind of computer.”

Blase said most students come either wanting a laptop or already having one.

“It’s sort of like having a pen and a pencil these days,” Blase said.

Contact technology reporter Lydia Coutré at [email protected].