Letters to the Editor

Freedom in computer labs worth the woes and problems
Re: “Lab computer ridden with viruses, problems” April 7

Brian Williams criticizes the freedoms afforded to the users in the Business building and argues for enhanced restrictions and tighter rules to be enacted so that he can be free from “spyware.”

The students of the College of Business are expected to stay abreast with the latest in technology and always be on the look out for the most efficient means of completing any given task. One of the goals of the college is to produce future professionals with the ability to adapt and thrive with change. This means that they will sometimes have to go outside the box to find applications and software to suit their needs.

For example the computer labs utilize MS Visio, a program that costs $499. An alternative that many of our students opt for is the SmartDraw program that offers a free trial version for students. It is user-friendly and obviously provides a cheaper alternative to COBA students. Williams’ alternative would force all students to conform to the provided software.

The choice becomes whether to continue the computer lab’s support of academic freedom by allowing students to use the computers in a proper manner, or simply become a totalitarian lab where the students are just ill-fated if they need unavailable software to complete or print out an assignment in which case they could blame that on the lab as well.

The average private/personal computer today has anywhere from 30 to 150 spyware programs installed on it. This figure comes from the several faculty and staff members who ask the technicians to clean their computers weekly. Even without the spyware, none of the computers in any campus labs is “private.”

If Williams is really concerned about privacy then he should make sure he also contacts the USF administration so that they do not continue to publish his address and phone number in the student directory. However, he should not expect other people to give up the convenience offered simply to give him the perception of privacy on what is a public computer.

The student body should be comforted in knowing that the freedoms this country fights for apply also in this computer lab.

Osvaldo Font is a senior majoring in management information systems and engineering physics.