Following news that THRIVE students who had already received College-issued laptops were not being included in the Digital Excellence Commitment (DExC), students and administrators addressed their dissatisfaction with the decision through an email campaign.
THRIVE students were informed that those who had previously received MacBooks from Bowdoin would not receive new ones through the DExC program this year with the rest of the student body. Many students felt this decision undermined the goal of equity the program was inherently trying to achieve.
“The people of THRIVE are the people that need these laptops the most,” Marios Merollari ’23, a member of THRIVE, said. “It was very sad hearing that we will not be getting a new laptop and have to graduate with a four-year-old laptop.”
Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Michael Cato responded to an editorial published in the Bowdoin Orient that condemned the decision. In a letter to the editor, Cato noted that this decision followed precedent for the policy upheld for most school-issued devices in the past.
“The DExC program mirrors the four-year computer replacement cycle for faculty and staff, some of whom have brand new computers, while others are currently using one-, two- or three-year-old technology,” Cato said in the letter, which is published online and on Page 10.
Cato also emphasized that THRIVE students have been receiving school-issued laptops since 2018. He also made a point that THRIVE students, specifically, are financially covered by the school for any repairs that Apple does not fully cover, such as broken screens and keyboards.
Students not in THRIVE also reacted to the news, calling for a change to the decision. Leif Maynard ’23 created an email template circulated to students asking Cato, President Clayton Rose and Dean of Students Kristina Bethea Odejimi to include THRIVE students in the program. THRIVE Director Jessica Perez was copied on the email.
In response, Cato referred students to his letter to the editor and offered meeting hours for further discussion. Maynard was not convinced by Cato’s position, however.
“I respect how engaged the college administrators have been with this conversation,” Maynard said. “I do not think that I have been convinced that THRIVE students shouldn’t get new computers, especially when we look at [their need] after [leaving] Bowdoin.”
The Department of Information Technology has not made any formal statements about next steps regarding future plans to provide laptops to THRIVE students. Likewise, the administration has not followed up on the possibility of enacting an appeal process for individual students.