I’ve been at Oswego State long enough to become attuned to small changes on campus. One of these is the periodic upgrading of campus computers. This made me wonder: what is done with the computers that are replaced?
I spoke with the Associate Director of Campus Technology Services (CTS), Nicole Decker, who told me that CTS currently sorts its computer into two groups: scrap and non-scrap. Non-scrap computers are deemed as suitable for use somewhere at Oswego State. Scrap computers are four to seven years old, and though they may be functioning perfectly, they are determined to be of lower quality than all other computers on campus. CTS sends these machines to a recycling company for safe disposal.
I am not here to criticize disposing of things in a way that is kind to the environment; however, I don’t think we should be disposing of things that still have value. After all, the best way to recycle something is to reuse it. When I found out that my college sometimes throws out a four-year-old computer, my kneejerk reaction was that there must be a better alternative. It struck me that my own computer, that I depend on and treasure, is just about as old as that.
Initially I suspected that the disposal of older computers is simply mandated by SUNY rules. However, Kevin Donlon, University Controller of the SUNY system, informed me that the SUNY policy for obsolete computers is to either sell them on eBay (for curious readers, the seller name is nysstore), give them to another state institution that could use them, or donate them to public schools through the CREATE program.
To me, this sounds like a pretty sensible policy. The reason why Oswego State gets away with doing none of these things is because CTS has the leeway to classify any computers that are no longer useful to Oswego State as “scrap,” even those that could be resold for decent money.
After my conversation with Decker, I found some reasons to be optimistic. She has only been in her position for two weeks, and seems prepared to review some of the previously-implemented CTS policies. For example, she told me that her office will look into donating some of its computers through the CREATE program. This could be the perfect destination for Oswego State computers. Those of us who have been through the New York state public school system know that our schools could use more and better machines. Public schools would also probably be less shy about selling older computers, which could generate much-needed funds.
Still, it is disappointing that it took this long for CTS to consider a better use for its older computers. During my research, I got the impression that the staff at CTS thought the SUNY policy mandated that any computer that is no longer useful on campus must be disposed of. Luckily, this is not the case. If only someone there had double-checked with SUNY administration, I have a feeling that many of our computers could have been spared a premature death.