The Battery Problem

When the office of Student Affairs and Information Technology revised the laptop policy last month, improvements were made to the cost of repairing or replacing damaged laptops. The charges were set to cover a range of prices, which would reflect the seriousness of the actual damage. Other additions to the laptop policy allow for a more flexible payment plan, faster repair times, and a greater availability of loaner laptops.

The new policy is a great step up from the original, better serving the needs of the student body. However, with all the positive changes, there was no mention of the laptop battery issue that should have been addressed when the policy was revised.

As of now, the warrantee on the St John’s laptops covers batteries for only one year, which is unreasonable because battery trouble usually occurs after the computers age a few years. Like any kind of battery, the ones used to power the Thinkpads wear out over time. Now, the problem does not afflict every laptop, but that does not mean that those who do have broken batteries should not receive replacements.

The problem first surfaced last year, as the first generation of the laptop program grew closer to four years old. At that time, there was no system set up to help students deal with the problem, so those with dead batteries were forced to order replacements on their own. The batteries themselves cost more than a hundred dollars, which is a price some students cannot afford.

At the outset of the problem, IT and the office of Student Affairs expressed a desire to make the batteries available for purchase at the campus bookstore or laptop shop. A discount on the batteries was also proposed. However, disappointingly, there has not been any progress on the issue since then.

This semester, the people at IT and the office of Student Affairs have made it clear that the battery problem is not a dead issue, which is good news. Director of IT Bernadette Lavin, stated that the battery problem was not addressed in the new laptop policy, but only because all of the issues have not been worked out yet. They hope to be able to distribute extra batteries to students, although they are still unclear as to how it will be managed. As Lavin explained, there must be a system in place to distribute batteries in a “fair and equitable way.”

This issue has been tossed around for too long. The system must allow for students who need batteries to get them without anyone taking advantage and IT should have the issue straightened out by next year. At this point, expecting batteries for free would be expecting too much. According to Manager of Client Services Karen Brosi, Student Services and IT want to make batteries available for purchase from the laptop shop by this September, which would be the best temporary solution. Better yet, they are working to get a reduced price for students, which is an added bonus.

Although the battery problem has not been completely solved, there have been some positive developments. Most importantly, the issue has been neither ignored nor forgotten by those in positions to settle it. All that remains is to wait for next September to see whether or not batteries are made available.