digital divide eyeTimes are tough all over and it seems difficult decisions are being made wherever people are employed. Our colleges are no different. The Orlando Sentinel recently wrote a column regarding an all too common problem these days   Valencia Community College expects to turn away between 3,000 – 5,000 students in the Fall due to lack of funding. So let us look at the students who are fortunate enough to score a spot in college. Chances are they have less means than they have had in the past, chances are they are cutting back like the rest of us.

What is the University of Virginia’s answer? Closing their computer labs within two years they plan to have closed down the majority of their public computer labs. They state that 99% of their incoming students come to the campus with laptops and therefore have no need for the lab. Surely this will be a cost saving measure. True, their mission statement says nothing about equal access to necessary resources but I wonder how this will effect the students who cannot afford the software necessary for some classes or need better connectivity on campus than the wireless system or whatever if they would simply like to print a Word document? And what do the poor kids do? I’d like to know if the 99% of incoming freshman are all full time or if they took into account the part time students who traditionally have even less resources. Suffice it to say I am irked by the University of Virginia’s decision and hope that this trend does not catch fire. I can see pairing down ones labs if the numbers show that less people are coming in (which is not the case at University of Virginia ) but to get rid of them! I can get behind a requirement for every student in college having to own a laptop, it is much like a textbook these days. However students can only afford so much laptop and they can’t always keep up.

Perhaps it’s my community college view that has me so saddened by this news. We try so hard here to make available to our students the tools they need to succeed. We would like to think that if a student fails here it is not due to a lack of assistance whether it be technological or tutorial. Am I so out of touch?

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