Blog Angelo: Does WUR’s policy support blood-computers?

On an all but empty campus, Angelo wrote his thesis on a WUR-computer. An HP computer. That WUR has chosen this brand, puzzles him.
Angelo Braam

The campus was very quiet these last months. Although staying at home was the most sensible choice, writing a thesis fulltime is much easier on a WUR-computer than my own small laptop. Thus, I was one of the very few to inhabit the campus these past few months. And, as a consequence, formulated an opinion on WUR computer policy of the last year and a half.

Bring your own device (BYOD), is the computer policy that was launched somewhere in the middle of last year. To increase the flexibility of students on campus (or rather: to allow for increased numbers), students are encouraged to buy and bring their own laptops. This will enable a gradual repacing of public computers by ‘flexible’ lecture spaces. As a member of a study association, I attended many a discussion on the issue and noted that students saw more drawbacks than advantages. Sadly, the students’ opinion did not halt the policy: WUR has growth-incentives, and BYOD must be implemented!

…but the library is closed

The corona crisis proved an excellent opportunity to push the new policy. After all, we are now accustomed to online education, and, if you still don’t own a decent laptop, you must have been living under a rock. I wonder how the less fortunate students who can’t afford a laptop handled this; with difficulty, I presume. Recently, the computers began to gradually disappear from Forum. There was zero communication on the matter; absolutely wonderful if you depend on a WUR computer. A handful of devices remain available in the library, but opening hours are limited. The WUR-computer heydays seem to be over.

If we can’t have a critical discussion on whether the BOYD policy is a good idea, could we at least discuss the ethical implications?

The end of an era became apparent following an email this week, concerning the education plans for the coming academic year: Arrange a proper laptop and necessities to study successfully (Brecht & Mol, 2020). BYOD is now becoming a reality, partially due to corona. It is what it is. Students will always be critical, and the first-year students won’t know any better. Moreover, they will soon become accustomed to working on their own laptop, so, I’m okay with it. At least, until I delved into what laptops WUR has to offer.

Boycot, please

All these laptops are HP’s, and this brand has caused quite the stir over the past years. The American company is responsible for the BASEL system, the technological infrastructure behind the Israeli checkpoints that violate Palestinian human rights on a daily basis. According to the human rights organisation Who Profits, HP benefits enormously from these activities and contributes to maintaining the Israeli occupation. By promoting HP laptops for students, WUR supports these practices, consciously or unconsciously.

Numerous organisations such as Jewish Voice for Peace and the BDS-Movement call for an HP-boycott because the company profits from human rights violations. If we can’t have a critical discussion on whether the BOYD policy is a good idea, could we at least discuss the ethical implications? Come on WUR, boycott HP!

Angelo Braam is a third-year Bachelor student of International Development Studies, who recently returned from an exchange in Jerusalem.

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