On tours of Iowa State’s campus, it is sometimes mentioned that students could get along without a laptop, due to the abundance of computer labs available on campus.
Janelle Blanco, senior in early childhood development and ambassador for the College of Human Sciences, would like to make an amendment to that statement after going without a laptop due to a virus that crashed her computer.
“Computer labs are helpful for shorter assignments and printing, but only in addition to laptops,” Blanco said. “I don’t think anyone could go for four years without a personal computer, even if it’s just a desktop.”
Blanco’s computer downloaded a malware that tracked her keystrokes to learn her passwords.
“I found out what happened when I got an email in my Iowa State account from myself,” Blanco said.
She immediately borrowed a computer from her boyfriend and went through to change all her passwords. While reinstalling programs into her computer, she has either borrowed computers from friends or worked on computers on campus.
“The whole thing has been a huge pain,” Blanco said.
According to the IT page, there are more than 50 computer labs available for student use. However, sometimes student schedules do not allow for ample work time.
Edwin Martinez Velazquez, senior in computer engineering, went without a laptop during the spring semester of last year.
“The [computer engineering] program is a lot of group projects, and sometimes the labs don’t have the newest software that I need,” Velazquez said.
To make due, Velazquez managed to convert his gaming desktop as a feasible substitute for his personal computer so he could get work done at home. However, this came with its own set of distractions.
“I knew that wasn’t the purpose of the desktop, so it sometimes led to procrastination,” Velazquez said.
Laptops are available for current ISU students to check out for a week at a time. Velazquez rented a laptop from the university for a computer science course, something Hannah Droogsma, sophomore in world languages and cultures, also tried when her laptop overheated the weekend before classes started this semester.
Droogsma works two part-time jobs in addition to class, which doesn’t always allow her to get to use campus computers.
“I would get off work at 11:30 at night, and by that time I wouldn’t have time to go to the library and finish up online homework before it closed,” Droogsma said.
Droogsma is not sure when she will be purchasing a new laptop, if at all.
“My U-Bill comes first,” Droogsma said. “If there were a way I could do long-term rental or pay off a laptop on my U-Bill right now, I would.”
Until then, Droogsma has managed to make due with using her phone as a way to stay in contact when she’s not around a computer. Droogsma said she can check email and open apps for the textbooks she’s bought, however she cannot open attachments or Blackboard.
That’s not to say there has not been any good that’s come out of the situation.
“Our society is so focused on technology that going without my laptop has been a nice break,” Droogsma said. “I don’t have to be so connected and worry about what’s happening on Facebook. It’s been relaxing.”
Blanco saw a rise in her productivity once she did not have a personal computer to rely on.
“When you’re on a friend’s computer, you have a limited amount of time, so you have to get your stuff done. There’s not a lot of time for distractions,” Blanco said.
While she’s managed to survive, Blanco wouldn’t wish for the same thing to happen to anyone.
“I don’t think anyone could go without their laptop for four years,” Blanco said.
Droogsma took this sentiment a step further.
“I would want to dare everyone to go a week without computers,” Droogsma said. “No one could do it.”