University News

U. to offer free Microsoft software

In addition to offering personal software, CIS aims to improve wireless Internet and printing

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Students will be able to download up to five free packages of Microsoft Office programs to their personal computers by Jan. 1, Chief Information Officer for Computing and Information Services Ravi Pendse announced at Wednesday’s meeting of the Undergraduate Council of Students.

The packages will include Word, PowerPoint and Excel and will be compatible with Mac and Windows, Pendse said. He added that a few UCS members may be able to “beta test” the package before it is released to the student body.

In response to campus-wide complaints about wireless Internet and printing, Pensde also sought feedback on improving students’ technological experiences.

According to a poll UCS conducted this semester, 93 percent of students have difficulty connecting to Brown-Secure, the campus’ main wireless network, at least one to three times a week.

Pendse encouraged students to participate in a “culture of proactiveness” by reporting their Internet problems to CIS.

“If you see problems, let us know,” Pendse said. “We will continue to work until your wireless issues get fixed.”

Wireless Internet access has improved in the Sharpe Refectory, and CIS officers will complete work on Barus and Holley and Emery Hall in the coming weeks, he said.

Sam Rubinstein ’17, UCS general body member, said he was pleased first-year dorms were receiving attention.

“Every time I get one of those emails that says we’re working on the Wi-Fi in your building, I smile inside,” he said.

CIS officers should hold a table in the Ratty where they ask students about their Internet concerns, said Kiera Peltz ’16, UCS communications chair and former Herald staff writer.

Wireless printing emerged as another topic of concern.

Maahika Srinivasan ’15, UCS academics and administrative affairs chair, said she would like to see “efforts to fix wireless printing.”

“The system for wireless printing is a bit of a pain, and the instructions are not very clear,” said Ryan Lessing ’17, UCS parliamentarian.

Pendse responded that CIS is creating a video to better explain how students should use the wireless printing system.

Several Council members also suggested enhancing the Brown website.

The UCS Academics and Administrative Affairs Committee has discussed the possibility of putting links to online resources such as Banner “all in one central place” on Brown’s website, Rubinstein said.

“The Brown website could be a lot better than it is,” Pendse said.

CIS recently did a “soft launch” of a mobile version of the website, he said, adding that the mobile site will be released as an app next semester.

The Council also listened to Gabriel Filsinger ’14 present a website he created where students can suggest, discuss and vote on projects for UCS to tackle.

Filsinger, a business, entrepreneurship and organizations concentrator, said the website would offer students a “quicker connection” to Council leaders.

The site has already gone live, and students have posted ideas such as better heating in the Sciences Library and better quality teaching in math courses.

Malikah Williams ’16, UCS campus life chair, said she thinks the site should be moderated.

“If somebody posts something inappropriate, it will be taken down,” Filsinger said.

“The biggest challenge in implementing something like this is making sure people know it’s there,” said Ian Cossentino ’17, UCS general body member. “We need to get the word out.”

UCS President Todd Harris ’14.5 could send a campus-wide email promoting the website, Filsinger said in response.

The Council also approved an amendment to its constitution that requires UCS members to attend one Undergraduate Finance Board meeting per semester.

Lessing said it came to his attention that the rule was not in the constitution, though Council leaders have been enforcing it.