PA Technology Updated Every 4 Years; Old Equipment Donated to Charity

Just like students, most computers graduate from Phillips Academy after four years of hard work. After being replaced, old computers are donated, sold or recycled through a cooperative network. Valerie Roman, Director of Technology, outlined the process of dealing with used computers. Computers at Phillips Academy typically have a four-year long life cycle. After this point, there are several directions that the computers can take. First, whenever possible, the computers are sent to other sites on campus. According to Roman, the Technology Office then works with the Financial Aid Office to try and make these computers meet the needs of current scholarship students. The Financial Aid Office pays to repair, refurbish and buy new software for the computers. Since an institutional license covers Phillips Academy software use, the Technology and Instructional Support staff must erase all data and software from the computers. The school then tries to sell the computers to companies or non-profit organizations that will buy equipment without an operating system or software. In the past, the computers have also been donated to charity. Roman went on to say that the money that the school makes from these sales goes to support PA’s recycling program with the Institution Recycling Network (I.R.N.). As a last resort, PA gives the computers to the I.R.N., an organization that PA contracts to sell or recycle our old computers. PA pays I.R.N. a fee based on the computer’s weight, and receives a portion of sale proceeds if I.R.N. sells the computer. Roman described the company’s job, saying, “I.R.N. legally transfers title to any new owner and ensures the proper environmental disposal.” This year’s Technology Survey, conducted annually, showed that about 28 percent of the student body use Apple computers. This number is a significant increase from previous years, where fewer than 10 percent of students stated that they use Apple computers. However, Roman said that the percentage of Apple computers in the PACC has decreased over the past 10 years as a response to the Technology Office’s perception that student demand for Apple computers also decreased. Roman said “There have been times when the PACC assistants have seen students wait for a Windows machine, while Macs remained unused.” She noted that, in the L.L.C. and Graves Music Lab, the systems that students needed to use were often available only for Windows. This might cease to be an issue with Apple’s newest operating system Mac OS X Leopard, which comes standard with “Boot Camp,” a program that enables users to run any Windows application on their Mac. Roman said that if the Technology Office perceives a greater demand for Macs in the PACC, they would accordingly purchase new machines when computers are up for renewal. They will purchase Macs even though Dell computers are typically cheaper, and Dell provides PA and other educational institutions with deep discounts. Apple’s business model is more consumer-based and therefore the company does not provide these discounts. It is unclear whether the Technology Office follows a similar process when choosing machines for computer renewals for student publications. Janet Scognamiglio, Editor of Pot Pourri, said that the computers that Pot Pourri currently uses are old and crash frequently, leading members of Pot Pourri to worry about losing their work. Scognamiglio deferred to Faculty Advisor to Pot Pourri Kennan Daniel on the topic of computer purchases. She said, “[The students] don’t really decide [which computers to purchase].” Daniel said that the Phillips Academy Technology Office manages the distribution and purchasing of new computers for the school, including student publications. According to Daniel, Pot Pourri is on the Computer Renewal List, and will receive upgraded computers in two years. Another student publication Frontline is due for a computer upgrade this January, according to editor Chris Waskom. They will receive Windows computers. Waskom said that their system choice is based on familiarity with the Windows operating system.