The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) will unveil a new laptop lending program this March.
The new initiative comes in response to the termination of a similar program run by the university in the beginning of the academic year due to budget cuts.
“Given that some funds had accumulated since Winter 2010, we had the opportunity to make a large impact by creating a laptop lending program,” said AUS President Justin Fletcher
Funding for the program—a total of $120,000—will derive from the Arts Computer Lab Fund, created in Winter 2010, to which all Arts students pay an opt-outable $9.80 fee per semester. The program will be administered by the Ferrier Computer Lab, which is managed by McGill staff members.
Funding was ratified at last Wednesday’s AUS Council meeting, following approval of the program’s budget by the fund’s committee earlier the same day. The committee is comprised of the AUS president, the AUS vice president finance, the dean of Arts, and the associate dean (academic administration and oversight) of Arts, and two student representatives.
After months of consultation by the committee, the program’s budget will be allocated towards the purchase of 20 Apple laptops, 20 Lenovo laptops, anti-theft software, and assorted computer programs.
According to Erin Sobat, a student representative of the committee, development of the program began when the university library system ended its laptop lending program in September.
“Once it was established that the library would not be able to reintroduce a sustainable lending program […] it was decided that the best course of action was to move to a faculty-specific model—such as those that already exist for Education and Management,” he said.
According to Fletcher, who also serves as Chair of the committee, the development of the program underwent extensive research before approval.
“We’ve worked closely to build this budget to make sure that we have a solid program,” he said. “We did research by talking to [representatives at] the Sandiford Lab in the Bronfman Building, and we spoke to [representatives] at the Education Building on their laptop lending program, and we also spoke with the […] people at the library who worked on the laptop lending program, so that way, we could have a program that had the best features of all three to best support the needs of our students.”
Fletcher said that the project proposal did not face criticism.
“There were concerns about lost or stolen laptops, [but] we have a really good warranty to protect the laptops in case there’s any damage,” he said. “There have been concerns about liability, but knowing how well others have worked, that’s given us a good model on how to construct this program.”
Fletcher emphasized the usefulness of the program for students.
“Having access to laptops is an urgent need for students,” Fletcher said. “I’ve been in a situation where my laptop stops working and I need something, or I want to use a laptop for a presentation. So I’m really glad that we’re able to provide a service through the Faculty of Arts.”
Some students, such as Mary Guay, U2 Arts, also expressed support for the announcement of the new program.
“I think it’s great that a faculty is stepping in for it,” Guay said. “I think most people don’t realize it’s utilized, but for the select few, it is very useful.”
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Someone should ask AUS how they decided on the computers they purchased – from what I understand they purchased high-end MacBook Pros when they could have reasonably purchased the basic model and offered 50% more computers to students through this loans program. More squandering of student dollars by the AUS.
High-end= better specs=longer lasting shelf life. Also its half PC/Mac
Uh nope. Having a bigger hard drive or a faster processor will not give you a large boost in shelf life. It’s ridiculous that they sprung for the most expensive computers.
Are students and staff aware that this type of service can be fully automated? Many universities like AUS have struggled with the same problem and found the answer in automating this program. Universities such as Drexel, Case Western, and Barry and many more, have found that choosing to automate this process saves staff time and gives students access to laptops & tablets 24/7/365. These kiosks incorporate popular models like MacBook Pro, iPads, Dell, Lenovo and HP. With just a simple google search like” automated laptop checkouts + Drexel, Texas A&M, you can find out more. 🙂