Better Wi-Fi and new loaner laptops in the library should be coming next semester. The projects will be funded from revenue collected by a student technology fee approved last year by the Associated Students of Washington State University Vancouver Senate.
On Nov. 17, the Washington State University Board of Regents unanimously approved the nearly $93,000 allocation during their visit to the Vancouver campus.
According to a memo from student government representatives to Chancellor Mel Netzhammer, $91,715 will go to Wi-Fi improvements in the VanCougar Café, Firstenburg Student Commons and the Library. The remaining $990 will purchase six 14” Dell Latitude laptops for students to borrow from the library. ASWSUV Present Jose Scott said they are purchasing the laptops from the Pullman campus at a significant discount because Pullman had surplus laptops.
Last spring ASWSUV approved a technology fee accessed at $20 for all full-time undergraduate students. According to Scott, the senate resolution did not specify exactly how the fee was to be spent, so much of this semester has been spent forming the necessary committees and ensuring that all mandatory procedures are followed.
A technology fee committee was formed and recommended that the estimated $93,000 to be collected this year be spent on Wi-Fi improvements and new loaner laptops. The student government memo also lists proposals that were not granted funds. Providing students with printing credit would have cost $15,808; digital signage in The VanCougar Café was accessed at $10,844, and cellular antennas in the VanCougar Café and the Library would have required $67,235.
Scott, who is a member of the committee, said the members consulted results from a survey administered by student government that asked participants to rank which projects should receive funding. That survey showed students ranked Wi-Fi improvements as the highest priority. While loaner laptops ranked low on the survey, Scott said the committee decided to prioritize the proposal anyway because low-income students were disadvantaged by their numbers in the survey, but are likely to significantly benefit from the laptops.
While AWSUV Senate approved the allocations for Wi-Fi and loaner laptops on Oct. 23, WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer, WSU Present Kirk Shultz and the WSU Board of Regents also had to approve the plan. The November vote by the Board of Regents marked the final step in that process.
Separate from the tech fee committee, ASWSUV Senate also created a sub-committee to rework the original resolution passed last spring. The original resolution only applied the fee to full-time undergraduate students.
Scott said the sub-committee decided to extend the fee to both graduate and part-time students under the reasoning that those students would also benefit from projects funded by the fee. Students taking under 10 credits will be charged a prorated percentage of the $20 fee equal to $2 per credit. For example, students taking three credits will be charged $6, while a student taking four credits will be charged $8. Students taking 10 or more credits will be charged the full $20. Those changes should take effect in spring 2018.
Disclosure: The VanCougar’s photographer, Zeke Estes, is a member of both ASWSUV Senate and the technology fee committee. He did not participate in the writing or editing of this story. The VanCougar does its best to identify and avoid potential conflicts of interest.