The concept ‘leading in learning’, our universities motto, implies that we are pretty good at teaching our students (and employees) new stuff. It implies innovation, outside the box thinking and everything that goes hand in hand with intellectual progress. A rather hypocritic statement if we take a look at decision making in and progress of our university for the past years
Trying to change something for the better, takes for ages. It’s the wonderful world of Dutch bureaucracy. Everything has to go via a certain office and a certain ‘important’ person (who you of course will never meet) before something is being approved to become implemented. Take for instance the policy regarding our ICTS infrastructure. 4 months ago I wrote a post about the horror that is using the internet and pc’s in university buildings (click here for the post). Within a day, an employee of the university department responsible for this infrastructure, responded that they were having sessions to explain students why they do what they do. They were working on a new concept student desktop that as far as my rational mind can think of will improve the old (current) one. So why do I start bitching about this again? Simply because up until now, there has been ZERO change. Yet I still hear students complaining more and more. I myself still get the warnings that I use an UNSAFE and UNSTABLE browser. Shouldn’t ICTS focus on improving our infrastructure and constantly be looking for new developments? Or does Microsoft depict what they (and we) will be using and paying for? Pretty weird considering the fact that we blame Greece for operating their business in a rather shady way.
I thought that the introduction of ‘Athena Desktop’, the desktop you get when you log on to a uni PC, would mean that you could access files and programmes on any pc in the university; making it a wonderful concept. Fail! If you wish to install a program that is of vital importance to for instance student organizations, you will get a very different answer. If you need photoshop to be installed, you have to pay ICTS 170 euro. Far from cheap to begin with, but this 170 euro only applies to ONE pc. If you have multiple pc’s at your office, you need to pay them the same amount times the number of pc’s. To top it all, you are forced to do this, because opensource alternatives like GIMP cannot be installed by yourself, because of (I guess) ‘safety issues’. So far for making the software you need available throughout the university. Even worse if you take the current cutbacks, and subsequently the need for monetairy efficiency, into account. I wonder what it all costs? And I wonder how my people actually prefer to use open source FREE software over licenced ones? I know I would!
Don’t think this is a rant, solely focussing on ICTS. This culture can be seen throughout the university. When the university got a new system to deal with their administrative tasks (SAP/SLM), almost all of the directly involved employees begged to not implement it before they got it to be a stable system. Too bad the executive board decided that it had to be implemented ASAP and employees couldn’t do shit about it. They complete other way of using innovation wrongly.
So on one side we have a lack of innovation and a desperate attempt not to go with the flow, while on the other hand innovation is being forced on us while innovation itself is not even ready for it. Maybe it is time for the university to start listening to the people who have to work with the equipment. They know best what is needed to make this bureaucratic machine work best. Open up the possibility of open-source software and a more relaxed (cheaper) software package. And start doing this quickly. It will safe us, and yourself because you don’t have to listen to people bitching about this anymore, a lot of frustration.
Oh and another plus: It will safe a buckload of money in the process. Isn’t that what all high executive people care about the most?
I was born and raised in a town called Geleen, sited between the hills of the Dutch province of Limburg. I'm a 25 year old Psychology Master student and a member of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN). I will enjoy shedding my critical light on life itself and share it with you while I am at it.