The student news site of Indiana University Southeast

The Horizon

The student news site of Indiana University Southeast

The Horizon

The student news site of Indiana University Southeast

The Horizon

Surface PC cuts into activities, education

A new Microsoft Surface tabletop computer was placed in the University Grounds Coffee Shop during the summer. It’s an interactive touch-based computer that doesn’t use a keyboard or mouse.

It’s a neat device. It allows you to grab digital content with your hands and move objects with simple gestures and touches. It uses cameras and image recognition in the infrared spectrum to recognize different types of objects.

The problem is the price tag. It cost the university about $15,000 to buy this one computer.

If that weren’t enough, the university is considering buying even more if the computer is popular. This would cost the university loads of money for computers students use just to entertain themselves.

The Horizon editors believe, right now, this tabletop computer serves no educational purpose whatsoever. It dazzles us with interactive technology but nothing more.

The money used for this should further the students’ education — not amuse them with a nifty gadget.

A member of the Information Technology Department has said future tabletop computers could be used for education.

However, we believe it should’ve been used for that purpose in the beginning. Spending $15,000 on a computer is an awful lot for a test run to see if many people like it.

This money would be better spent upgrading the other 850-plus computers around campus instead of investing in one.

The money used to buy it came from the Student Activity Fee. Every student pays the SAF along with their tuition. The fee is calculated at $5 per credit hour, up to 12 hours, so the maximum any student pays per semester is $60.

Each year, the Student Life Committee meets to distribute the SAF to various groups and programs on campus, such as Athletics, the IUS Children’s Center and The Horizon.

The SLC bases its allocations on what the projected enrollment is. The tabletop computer was funded with “one-time” money left over from last year’s SAF. The money came from various accounts that didn’t use their full allocation, and, since there was higher enrollment than projected, more money was available.

This is an institute of learning. It is not the university’s responsibility to entertain us.

Even though it may give a handful of students a reason to hang around at school, it won’t give them a reason to get involved. They could get a sense of community by playing all the other games located in the Game Room.

Other universities have used this tabletop computer so their students could work on computer programs. This is how it should be used — for education.

This computer is simply gawked at. Right now, it serves no beneficial purpose to the students of this university.

Just because others have bought this tabletop computer, it doesn’t mean we have to do the same just to be on the cutting edge.

If the students of IU Southeast are going to pay for something, it should be something we can all get some use out of. Here are just a few ideas of how the $15,000 could be spent:

• Put the money toward expanding the parking lots. Even though money for such a project is supposed to come from another account, money is still money.

If we have an extra amount, it could be used to help alleviate the crowded parking lots that plague the first weeks of the semester.

No one really wants to park in the disorganized chaos that is overflow parking.

• The money could be used to bring in high-profile speakers. For example, the Sanders Speaker Series, last year, brought in former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino. IU Southeast could hire a professional to come in and talk to students about what it’s like to work in a particular career. It could give students insights into the job market and what it takes to work in their career.

• The university could buy the First-Year Seminar book for all of the FYS students instead of forcing them to buy it themselves. It’s one less cost for incoming freshmen.

• Copies of the Common Experience book, “You are not a gadget” by Jaron Lanier, could be bought for classes using the book.

Or perhaps it could be given out at certain Common Experience events. More people would read it if they didn’t have to buy it.

• IU Southeast could use the $15,000 for small scholarships.

For example, there could be scholarships available for students who want to study abroad.

Or maybe there could just be more scholarships available for students who are barely scraping by.

These are all just ideas. This extra money offered up a chance to enhance IU Southeast, but we believe this money was wasted on a tabletop computer that isn’t going to be of much practical use.

We believe the university didn’t act responsibly when they bought it.

Our point is not to criticize or demean any one person or group.

We simply want to say there are many better ways to spend this money.

Let’s invest in education, not entertainment.

By THE HORIZON EDITORS
horizon@ius.edu

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