Pa. college makes move toward all-Mac campus

PHILADELPHIA (U-WIRE) – At Wilkes University, it’s more like, “Dude, you’re getting a Mac.”

Last month, the Pennsylvania college announced its plan to switch all 1,700 of its computers to Intel-based Macs, the latest indicator of a resurgence of Macs on college campuses.

Wilkes spokeswoman Christine Seitzinger said the ability of Macs to run both the Windows XP operating system and Apple’s OS X allowed the university to make the switch.

Since Macs can now run all the necessary programs that require Windows, the switch was simply a matter of choosing higher-quality hardware – and a desire to be hip – Seitzinger said.

“This generation of students has an affinity for Apple products,” Seitzinger said, pointing out the popularity of the iPod.

Seitzinger said every three years Wilkes University has an “aggressive technology refresh” in which they replace all computers.

In this most recent cycle, Apple’s bid simply beat the other providers’, she said.

The move by Wilkes is perhaps part of a larger trend of Macs growing in popularity among college students.

Last fall, Macs tripled in sales at Princeton University, and Harvard University reported a 30 percent sales increase.

At Penn, however, there are no plans to make a similar switch, said SAS Information Technology Director Ira Winston.

The decisions of Mac versus PC are made at the level of individual faculty, departments and schools.

Each faculty member has the choice of either a Mac or PC laptop or desktop, Winston said.

For computer labs, the decision is made by each individual school, depending on the lab’s purpose. As for labs run by SAS, Winston said that, for media-oriented computer labs, Macs would typically be used, while PCs would be chosen for more general purposes.

“The machines satisfy different needs for different people,” Winston said. “We don’t want to be so prescriptive that we limit it to one.”

College freshman Sarah Feldman, the owner of a MacBook Pro, said she doesn’t think switching the entire campus to Macs would be a good idea. “More than half the people (at Penn) use PCs — getting rid of all (the PCs), there would kind of be an uproar about it,” Feldman said.

College junior Graeme Brown, also a Mac user, echoed this sentiment, saying that, for the sort of things students typically do in a computer lab – usually more basic tasks like word processing and checking e-mail – it doesn’t really matter whether the computer is a Mac or a PC.

“There’s not a whole lot of difference,” he said.