New ITS laptop checkout policy creates problems for students – Daily Nebraskan
For many University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, laptop checkout privileges are life-saving when a laptop malfunction occurs in the middle of a busy week.
However, a recent Information Technology Services policy change has made it a challenge for some students to be guaranteed a laptop in cases of emergencies.
According to Spencer Nussrallah, chair of the Technology Fee Committee of the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska, the policy was changed from a three-day to a seven-day checkout period after receiving feedback from students.
“I like the new policy because it allows students to have more time to do what they need to do,” Heath Tuttle, the assistant vice chancellor for the Office of Information Technology Services, said. “However, I also understand that the flipside to this, it seems as though students are keeping them longer, therefore our turnover is lower.”
The new policy solved a problem by giving students a longer period of time with laptops, however, it created another problem in the process.
UNL students currently have laptop checkout privileges at the Nebraska Union, Nebraska East Union, Adele Coryell Hall Learning Commons and Henzlik Hall for a seven-day period. Until the seven-day period is over, students are not obligated to return them.
“The policy change has led to fewer laptops in Huskertech, however, if a student is unable to get one, it is because another student has one,” Nussrallah said. “We are exploring how the seven-day loan period works, and if conflict and trouble remains, we will discuss going back to a three-day period.”
Dylan Koslaphirom, a student worker at ITS, said he has witnessed some of the changes in student checkout patterns while working at ITS.
“The new policy change has definitely set some backlash on our end,” Koslaphirom said. “The laptop checkout turnover rate is not as high as it used to be. Those students who do continue to checkout do benefit from having laptops longer. Administration attempted to standardize, but it is something I have tried contacting them about.”
Although the new ITS policy meant no harm, the laptop supply is limited.
“I do think we are trying to increase the availability of the machines,” Tuttle said. “But if we were to focus on increasing the number of machines available on campus, we might have to decrease other student services on campus, and we would run into another problem.”
This fall, the ASUN Technology Fee Committee and ITS collaborated and decided to increase the checkout laptop budget in order to meet demand because of the increasing enrollment rates at UNL.
At Henzlik Hall, there is a supply of 25 Macbooks and 50 PCs. At Love Library, the supply is kept at 30 Macbooks and 10 PCs. The Nebraska Union has 82 Macbooks and 39 PCs. However, the Nebraska East Union counts with a limited supply of five Macbooks and 10 PCs.
The ASUN Technology Fee Committee increased the budget at locations, focusing on the Nebraska Union due to higher student checkout demand.
Bhan Tiap, a sophomore pre-health student at UNL, shared some of the benefits and disadvantages she experienced with both the previous and current checkout policy.
“I notice the laptops at the union run out quickly due to the convenience of the location,” Tiap said. “Now, with the new policy, I have noticed that if I do not wake up Monday morning, I may run out of luck looking for a laptop anywhere on campus. But when I am lucky, I enjoy the laptop longer.”
Tuttle said the problem may be that students prefer Macs over PCs, and when a student’s preference is not available, students’ checkout frequency decrease. He also said students sometimes ignore the seven-day return policy, which adds on to the shortage.
“I hope to have a discussion with the tech committee and ITS over this,” Tuttle said. “I hope to give them stats and numbers before deciding to make any changes. If we do make a change, hopefully it will be for the spring semester.”
Whether or not the new policy is changed, Tuttle said ITS is trying to inform students of other technology resources on campus students could use in times of emergency or laptop checkout shortages.
ITS is also trying to spread the word about labs on campus. The lab in the Nebraska Union is available 24/7 for students. The desktop computers have all the software a student may need.
“Labs are not used as much as they were five years ago,” Tuttle said. “I believe the labs are a good resource, especially if you are in a pinch and you really need to get something done. We do not want the shortages of laptops to get in the way of students doing their work.”
Tuttle also discussed the importance of talking to ASUN members about any problems concerning the new policy. The student surveys are also a vital source of feedback that can influence new policies in the future.