Earlier last month, Academic Computing and Media Services announced that Macmillan New Ventures, the company that manufactures our beloved i>clicker remotes, will be charging a registration fee for all used i>clickers starting Winter Quarter 2015. This one-time sum of $6.99 applies to any student registering a used i>clicker at iclicker.com, and those registering a used i>clicker for the first time on Ted will also be charged starting next year. And while the payment doesn’t necessarily break the bank, it comes at a time when the rising cost of education has left many of us wary about arbitrary fees and expenses.
The manufacturer’s explanation is that an estimated 50 percent of students who register i>clickers each year have purchased them used. And with new i>clicker 2 prices currently pushing $50 or more, it’s not hard to see why students would avoid the Bookstore and turn to Facebook sale pages instead. Since Macmillan New Ventures receives zero revenue from these secondhand purchases, it claims to be unable to provide the same level of support for i>clicker users unless the extra charge is implemented.
Neither ACMS nor UCSD will receive any direct benefit from the new fee, and it’s hard to say whether students will see any improved service either. It appears that the sole rationale for this decision was to maximize the manufacturer’s profit margins at our expense. With that in mind, who knows what other fees it may decide to enact in the future?
The remotes are a convenient — and often mandatory — way for students to participate in class, with more and more professors integrating them into their lessons plans. Even so, charging for a device that is by no means vital to our academic success puts an unnecessary strain on students that are already dealing with other, more pressing, expenses like paying rent or rising tuition. The burden shouldn’t fall on students when none of us had any say on whether or not to include i>clickers in our curriculum.
This is yet another disheartening attempt to shake a few more dollars out of an increasingly frugal student body. Used textbooks have also suffered a similar fate in recent years. Classes requiring online supplement codes and the most updated version of textbooks, which seem to be published faster than we can read them, make it harder for us to rely on former classmates for their cheaper, secondhand materials. Instead, we are forced to spend exorbitant amounts of money on supplies that we might only use for a single quarter, leaving us with little more than expensive paperweights at the end of it.
The $6.99 fee isn’t completely outrageous and we only need to pay it once, but it does reflect a prevailing viewpoint that students are only sources of income, not human beings who deserve a quality education. Macmillan New Ventures also maintains several other teaching tools, like Sapling Learning, a science-oriented online homework site. Even if it claims to be “acutely aware” of the effects that higher educational costs have on students, one can only imagine the money that we eventually might be forced to pay to keep the company afloat. Either Macmillan New Ventures should find a reasonable alternative to the registration fee or teachers should boycott the use of i>clicker remotes entirely. We have enough ridiculous fees on our plate already; leave those financial shenanigans to the UC Board of Regents.