Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Letter to the Editor of the State Press...

I’m writing as a follow-up to the article in the January 24th edition of the State Press, USG Takes Tech Fee to Student Voters. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the University’s perspective on this important issue and assure students that we’ve been working closely with their representatives. Beginning in November of last year, I began working intensively with a group of student government representatives, including: Maria Ronan, Elizabeth Simonhoff, Ross Meyer, Christopher Gustafson, Amanda Confer, Devin Mauney and James Alling. Along the way, I’ve provided them with written details and participated in a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss the fee. This past Sunday, I posted a summary of the information I shared with these student leaders on my blog. I hope students interested in this issue will have a look at the post and feel free to share their comments there. As these representatives will tell you, we haven’t always agreed, but we have had an open dialog and spent many hours discussing why the fee is needed, how it will be used, and how to include student input in a meaningful way. Though our conversations have been spirited at times, I know these students feel that their ideas have been taken seriously, because they’ve told me so, face-to-face.

The heavy usage of our wired and wireless networks, the lines at the computing sites, and the many requests for more support, more online services, and more access to software tools – all of these things tell us how important information technology has become to our students.

The results of this fall’s university-wide technology survey reveal a student body that expects the University to do more for them in the area of technology. They want more connectivity; they want better technology support services; they want the academic experience to make better use of emerging technologies. In the survey, the students make it clear that they want ubiquitous wireless connectivity, better technology support, and a broader range of software and services, accessible from anywhere.

The fulfillment of these expanding needs is the purpose of the fee. Maintaining and growing a complex technology infrastructure requires a stable source of revenue, and while the cost of providing these services is rising, the patchwork of non-recurring funding sources we have used to get this far has expired.

ASU is not the first university to require a technology fee as a reliable way to fund these crucial services. In 2002, according to an EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research report, nearly 70 percent of public universities had instituted a mandatory student technology fee. According to that report, the average student technology fee at these schools was $197. Both our sister institutions, the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University, already have similar technology fees in place to meet the needs of their students.

Because this fee is directed toward student needs, we look forward to any input on student priorities, including the USG’s recently announced survey. In addition, please consider this an invitation to the electronic discussion being held on my blog. I’ll respond directly to your questions and provide you with as much background as I can.

Also, since nothing beats face-to-face feedback, I’m planning a series of Open Forums to be held in February at each of the ASU campuses to explain why this fee is so important and to listen to your concerns. We’ll begin on the Tempe Campus in Murdock 100 on Tuesday, February 6th from 5:00-6:30pm. We’ll be announcing sessions at Downtown, West and Poly in the coming week.

I’m looking forward to meeting you and learning more about what’s important to you.


Virginia Smith,  February 9, 2007 at 12:33 AM  

I keep reading about the student survey that people filled out, however I never saw this survey and I don't know any other students who did ether. Was it delivered to all students? I heard that it was only delivered to those people whose majors were being considered to move downtown. There's a huge chunk of student input that is missing. It might be worthwhile to re-do the survey and make sure it gets delivered to all students regardless of major.

University Technology Officer » Blog Archive » More on the Tech Fee… February 19, 2007 at 5:16 AM  

[...] Virginia Smith asked if ASU’s student technology survey was offered to all students or only downtown students? Isn’t a big chunk of student input missing? Others questioned the survey’s methodology. Wasn’t the survey really rigged to produce support for the fee? [...]