Taking a bite out of apple at Waterloo
By Ed Stack
Efforts by the administration at the University of Waterloo to eliminate the use of Macintosh computers across campus has met with strong resistance by staff members.
The plan, created by the University Committee on Information Systems and Technology, is meant to phase out Macintosh over the next several years. The phasing out, if allowed to continue, will occur as support services for the Macintosh are systematically eliminated until early in the year 2000.
"The move to eliminate Macs is a result of an attempt to reduce complexity in the university's computing environment," said Waterloo associate provost Jay Black. "There are no strategic reasons to continue to use Macs."
However, the move has caused an immediate reaction among many professors. "As a happy Mac user, I am not happy with this decision," said Leroy Dickey, a professor of geometry at Waterloo.
Much of the backlash from pro-Mac professors is a result of the lack of consultation with the staff, since no attempts have been made by administration to contact both tank and file professors, Dickey said.
There are also concerns about the affect this initiative will have on programs at Waterloo. "Our dean of computing has said that he wants to decrease diversity in the computing environment. Surely this will not improve the educational experience," he said.
The utilization of computers in the classroom has also created some controversy among academics. Dickey said he believes, as many others, that software can be picked before selecting hardware and not the other way around.
Yet the issue of cost is one area upon which both parties seem to be in agreement. "I think it is a decision that will significantly increase expenses. Personal computers are far more expensive to install and maintain," Dickey said. Black admits cost savings is an area in which the university needs to do more homework.
Opposition to the plan has caused the committee to reconsider their recommendations. It will begin reviewing both the strategy as well as support issues and will welcome any feedback from staff and students, Black said.
Mike Bauer, director of Information Technology Services at Western, said while Western has both Macintoshes and PC's, no significant problems have occurred. "We haven't looked into phasing out yet, but Macs aren't that prevalent here."