Beginning July 1, USF will charge students living off-campus a fee to connect to the university’s dial-up modem. The $5.99 fee is upsetting some students who live off-campus, but for the most part, paying the money is better than the alternatives. Among the more unfavorable choices would be closing free computer labs across campus, charging for free computer training classes or cutting classes.
USF has been singing the “budget cut” blues for quite some time, and while many think this is simply a way for the administration to cut corners, it is also the best of a particularly bad situation. USF students do not have to connect through the university’s modem to access their USF e-mail accounts or WebCT, a Web site often used by professors to post assignments and class notes. Any Internet provider, such as AOL, MSN or Roadrunner, gives students the means to access these sites. While these providers cost considerably more than the $5.99 USF will charge, many students, especially those living off campus who will be affected, already use such providers.
As the St. Petersburg Times reported on May 20, 7,700 students will be affected by the charge. A considerable number, but these students may only use the USF modem out of convenience or to access academic databases that require a proxy setup. USF’s modem automatically verifies proxy for these certain Web sites and allows students uninterrupted access. Now, students who live off campus will simply have to access these Web sites when on campus or take two minutes from their home computer to set up the proxy feature.
In the grand scheme of college expenses, $5.99 a month is a drop in the bucket. And, if the budget is as bad as has been reported, paying $5.99 is better than not being able to take a class to graduate.