Student Technology Fee Referendum

Ideally, access to important technological resources that help students in their classes or extracurricular endeavors would be provided by the university. But because there’s a slim chance that will happen in the foreseeable future — given the financial situation of the state and the UC system — the Student Technology Fee Referendum represents a cost-effective way for students to take the initiative in accessing useful technological resources.

The $51 per semester fee will go toward providing each student software such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Suite, which can contribute extensively to student projects, startups and other endeavors. Just those two programs together can cost more than $2,000 if purchased privately. The fee sets aside $17 for financial aid programs and allocates $14 or more for additional technology projects and initiatives.

During a two-year trial period that began in 2011, the number of students who downloaded the Microsoft and Adobe software — which was offered to them for free — was sufficient to prove that students find the programs useful and, thus, justifies the fee. Since that time, students have downloaded Microsoft Office about 40,000 times and Adobe Creative Suite about 56,000 times.

While the fee is a bargain compared to the open-market cost of the products offered, the passage of the Student Technology Fee Referendum must be coupled with stringent oversight of the substantial portion of funding that will be allocated to as-yet unspecified student technology initiatives. For the additional tuition burden to really be worth it for students, members of the referendum oversight committee — a majority of which may consist of students — must ensure that potential expenditures, like a Lower Sproul charging station or a technical-skills training program, are executed with the requisite frugality and efficiency.

Still, the benefits of the fee will outweigh its additional financial burden.

Vote yes on the Student Technology Fee Referendum.