Are iPads worth more student fees, fewer course options, fewer services, and firing faculty and staff? The iPads cost UNR $3.5 million each year, $450,000 alone of which is spent on Apple Pencils, money that could be better used elsewhere. We urge President Sandoval to end the Digital Wolf Pack Initiative (DWPI), provide technology access in a more targeted way, and invest the savings back into the Wolf Pack community.
UNR is in a budget crisis, and the administration has told departments they can expect cuts to faculty, staff, and classes while increasing student fees. According to Vice President of Administration and Finance Andrew Clinger at the recent Campus Conversation, each 1% student fee increase reduces UNR’s deficit by $1.2 million. This means that the $3.5 million spent on iPads each year is equivalent to a 3% student fee increase. As instructional positions are being cut, class sizes are being increased, and services are being cut, $3.5 million is a luxury we can’t afford.
Even though the iPads are repeatedly sold as a way to provide digital access for all students, they haven’t always helped students who need the technology most, as pointed out in a recent Sagebrush editorial. For instance, iPads are only given to full-time students, which means the students most likely to need technology support don’t receive it because they can’t attend UNR full time due to work, family, or other responsibilities. Even more, the iPad can’t do what a laptop can do, despite costing as much or more than entry-level laptops. If the University were truly focused on access instead of a flashy initiative that ultimately enriches Apple shareholders, it would target those students who most need computing devices.
When made aware of its cost, students also believe the iPad program should be discontinued. In a survey of 356 UNR students, only 25.3% definitively felt that UNR should continue providing iPads to all students if it involved a fee increase.
UNR would not be the first university to find new solutions. The Ohio State University, one of the first universal iPad pioneers in 2017, ended their program in 2022, explaining that they “made the decision to … transition to a new suite of services designed to be more impactful and sustainable and better meet the changing needs of students.”
The Nevada Faculty Alliance believes that our mission is to invest in our students in ways that help them be successful at UNR and after they graduate. Instead of more budget cuts, $3.5 million could ensure students have access to a variety of technologies, better staffed support services, smaller classes, more course offerings, the best faculty and staff possible, and more.
The above statement was made by The Nevada Faculty Alliance. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Nevada Sagebrush or its staff. For any questions regarding the statement please reach out to email@example.com.