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Columns & Editorials

September 28th, 1999

[2:30 PM] The Case Of The Disappearing Macs From The University of Montreal
by Michael Munger

During summer, a short series of events took place at University of Montreal. What was left of Macintosh computers - mostly early Power Macs - in certain areas disappeared. In the building where history, philosophy, political science and other such specialties are, there were two computer labs on the third floor . One was filled with around 25 Macs, and the other with an equal amount of PC's. All the Macs were replaced by PC clones.

The threat to the Macintosh seems to go further. Reliable sources add that a few people close to the University's leadership want to eliminate the Macintosh as much as they can. In the University's offices, nothing but PC's are allowed to get in, it is an official policy. They would not only replace them in computer labs but they are also thinking about getting rid of the Mac store serving students on campus. One of the store's salesmen got the message soon and converted himself into a PC salesman at the end of the summer. He switched locations... and sells PC's in the University's PC store.

When questioned about the reasons why the Macs were replaced in a computer lab, the technician said that there were very few classes offered there on the Mac platform and they needed more PC's to give classes. Amazingly, during the last two years, this writer noticed that there were not more classes given in the PC lab than the Mac lab, and both were equally available to all students for general use like work or Internet access.

A few quick calls helped to find who might have pushed such changes and ideas at University of Montreal. The director of the DITER (DITER is a French name but this organization's function is to take care of technology at the university), Jean-Francois Giguere, admitted that he bears some responsibility on technological decisions, but he also says that faculties decide what they want to do about computers.

No matter what, the threat over Macs at this university is clear. A puzzling fact is that the Mac store that might disappear is the one that sold the most iMacs in the Province of Quebec, and the number of Macs sold there is enormous. At the University of Montreal, a whole lot of students buy and use Macs, like the educational market in general.

The Mac Observer Spin: It shows that PC bigotry has no cure. Even when Apple rocks the computer world, some still find a way to eliminate Macs from their institutions, despite the fact that there is a strong Mac following inside the very buildings of their campus.

The head of the technological direction and the technicians can say whatever they want to the public, but a lot of students did use the Mac labs to type their work or research on the Internet. Many also bought their own Macs at the Mac store inside the university's own walls. Do they believe they know - more than anyone - what is good for their students? Or did a few pro PC folks do some lobbying around the big offices to eliminate the Macs?

The idea that faculties get to decide what they want is funny when we know that school boards and IT departments that make such educational decisions are usually under the influence of a PC bigots. Nobody will ever admit anything, and it is sad to see an educational institution refusing to promote choice, especially when it is important for both platforms to be present in the education field. Not only is this presence necessary, it is wanted. When the store inside one of the buildings is the number one iMac seller in the province (a Canadian province is like a state in the US), there are good reasons to believe that the Mac is popular on campus. This makes the PC bigotry even harder to swallow.

Michael Munger is a a native of Quebec and a student for the last two years at University of Montreal. Michael is the author of On The Flip Side here at The Mac Observer.

University of Montreal

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