Students upset over Laptop lease changes

Mikenzie Frost

Before their first semester at NMU, the class of 2015 was under the impression that they would receive a new laptop every two years. They have recently found out that the promises made to them by the university to upgrade their laptops may never happen.

Junior nursing major Patricia Lange enjoys the weather outdoors in her hammock while working on homework for the first week of classes at NMU. (Katie Cybulski/NW)
Junior nursing major Patricia Lange enjoys the weather outdoors in her hammock while working on homework for the first week of classes at NMU.
(Katie Cybulski/NW)

Senior computer science major Jeremy Ostergaard recently sent out an email to fellow class members regarding the issue.

“NMU had not let seniors clearly know that they would be keeping their laptops for a fourth year,” Ostergaard said, “I wanted to raise awareness about this change and the reasons behind it.”

For NMU students, a laptop is included in tuition, which for some, lessens the burden of the already steep college price tag. According to www.nmu.edu/tuition, undergraduate resident students are paying $4,630 per semester. Senior criminal justice major Jenna Hoppes said she looked forward to the NMU laptop initiative that promised a new computer every two years.

“I didn’t have the stress of finding and buying a laptop as a freshman,” Hoppes said.

Students who have two or fewer semesters left at NMU received an email from the director of micro repair, Scott Krah, in early May. It said the students were no longer eligible to upgrade their laptops, despite what the contract might have stated. There was an alternative available to students. Instead of trading in their existing model, they were given the option to keep their computer and upon graduation, buy it back for $50 or turn it in.

According to Krah, this new procedure is the result of a partnership between NMU and Lenovo, the company that has a computer contract with the university. Students are able to bypass the normal process of removing their files from the computer before turning it in if they decided to pay the fee and keep their computer.

As explained in the email from Krah, upon graduation, students will be sent information on how to finalize the purchase of their ThinkPad computers. It includes instructions to bring their computers to NMU micro repair to have the NMU-licensed software removed.

Hoppes said she will not be buying her current computer due to a lack of updated software on her machine right now.

“I was pretty upset when I received the email about not being able to get another computer, after it was supposed to be two years, switched to three, and I have to keep it for all four years,” Hoppes said.

Krah said in the email that NMU will provide this new offer because the university will be spending this academic year doing an intensive review of the entire technology program in order to see what changes should be made in the future.

The email that some students received said the goal of this process is to keep only enough end-of-lease models to do repairs, which would allow as much flexibility as possible to transition to new types of computers in the future.

This new change, that came suddenly and unexpectedly for most, has other students wondering what their computer future looks like.

“It’s scary not knowing what options will be available to me next year,” Danielle Helios, junior social work major, said. “I already see issues with my computer and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford a new computer, especially when we are guaranteed a computer and an upgrade.”

Making the decision to move to new mobile computing devices is up to the recommendation a review committee will make to university administrators. Senior athletic training major Jamie Elam said she feels like she is being cheated out of getting a new computer, since it is part of tuition to get an up-to-date laptop.

“I think Northern needs to think of a different way of who gets new laptops,” said Elam.