UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ has committed to securing emergency funding for student access to Microsoft and Adobe software for the upcoming academic year.
The commitment followed a meeting between Christ and several other campus officials and student leaders, including ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President James Weichert. The funds will not come through a Miscellaneous Student Fee, according to Weichert, which was proposed as a solution earlier this year.
“We’re not particularly clear on where the funding is coming from … but we are very pleased to see this,” Weichert said. “(We are) very pleased coming out of the meeting Tuesday, we pushed off the idea of a Miscellaneous Student Fee.”
Weichert added that the passage of a Miscellaneous Student Fee, which he said would not require input from students or mandatory oversight, would have set a “dangerous precedent.” In a previous meeting of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Student Services and Fees, the committee voted against recommending a Miscellaneous Student Fee to Christ, according to Weichert.
Access to the software was previously covered by the Student Technology Fund fee, an annual fee that provided students with access to Microsoft, Adobe and Zoom programs, among other technology services.
In the 2021 ASUC elections, the Student Technology fee received a majority of votes — more than 80% — in favor of its continued renewal. However, as a result of campus policy requiring a minimum voter threshold of 20% of all eligible students to be met prior to a referendum’s passing, the renewal was ultimately rejected, with access previously expected to expire beginning in July.
“It is something students have fought for,” Weichert said. “There are sacred principles and mechanisms built into campus to give a say on student fees that are not there with MSFs. Student input and consent is absent, a dangerous precedent to set when campus can come in and say they can do something on behalf of students.”
To ensure that all students are able to access the offered services and that campus can oversee the costs being incurred, students will need to request an Adobe Creative Cloud license for fall 2021, according to Jenn Stringer, associate vice chancellor for information technology.
While the process is still being finalized, students will be able to register for their fall semester license by Aug. 12, Stringer noted. With regard to Microsoft Office, Zoom, MatLab and LinkedIn Learning, there will be no changes with how students receive their licenses.
“Conversations with student leadership are ongoing to discuss strategies for long-term sustainable funding for software and other technology costs that have been covered by the STF during its seven-year history,” Stringer said in an email.