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Is That Your Computer? Did You Bring That Chair From Home?
July 18, 2011 - 11:16am

Has a student ever entered your office and asked if the computer on your desk was your personal machine? Or perhaps a student noticed your office chair and inquired if it was yours and not your school's? At my last full time position at a university, I asked for (and received) a brand new computer (a gorgeous iMac) and a new chair (mesh back with a head rest). The iMac was amazing as a productivity tool / efficiency amplifier. The chair fit my 6' 4" frame like a glove. I was comfortable and more efficient. What came as a surprise was that students would come into my office and assume that since I had a nice computer/chair that I had brought/bought them myself. It was funny at first, but it really brought to light the fact that all too often, our "gear" is substandard for the work that we do.

Gear really does make a difference. So why do those of us who work in student affairs most often have the slowest computers and more-often-than-not, dilapidated office chairs? I've never had a colleague tell me that their computer was too fast or that their work day desk chair was too comfortable. Why do we get substandard gear when we know that quality equipment will assist us in the work that we do?

I realize that funding is generally the reason why we have new, but still slow computers. Or why we have desktop computers that have outlasted their usefulness years ago. However, what if we started buying slightly more expensive computers (like my former iMac) or upgraded to chairs that weren't the sub-$100 chain store seat? I would posit that if we spent a bit more, we would get more. More long term results in terms of comfort and efficiency. More time spent supporting our students and less time rebooting our aging computers or putting tape on a hand-me-down desk chair.

Here's a suggestion: Buy an iMac with at least 4Gb's of ram. Install something like VM Ware or Parallels so that you can run Windows apps when necessary. Purchase a chair that is ergonomically appropriate and that costs more than $100. And as an added bonus, check out the education pricing on Adobe PhotoShop, Acrobat Professional, and InDesign. Trust me, when you're able to create amazing documents/images/designs that look good (if you've ever suffered through creating anything with Publisher, you'll thank me) you'll be much happier.

Spend a little more...get a lot back. Gear matters.

What do you think? Is this a possibility? Can we convince those with access to the purse strings that this is important?

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