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Free Culture Vassar College

Two days ago, the student movement celebrated its first anniversary. Coincidentally, last week (Monday, April 18), I delivered a presentation at the Vassar College Media Cloisters promoting an Action Plan to help migrate the student body to and other desktop open source programs. One of my suggestions was to form “Free Culture Vassar College,” but I hadn’t realized was already aggressively pursuing new campus chapters. How fortuitous, indeed.

Vassar College students have already been discussing open source and its role in the university environment, for at least the past year. Many are already using OpenOffice daily, and introducing it to new students as they arrive. They don’t need me! But maybe I can help speed the process of getting the administration to accept and even support users of OpenOffice on campus.

I was invited to discuss the OpenOffice project and to talk about actions that can be taken to promote open source on campus. The notes I used to structure my talk can be downloaded here and the slideshow here. (Option-click these links to download the files on a Mac, or right-click on Wintel.)

During the course of the discussion, we calculated that each incoming class might spend a collective $90,000 purchasing copies of Microsoft Office at the student price of $150 each (incoming classes are actually well over 600 students, making this estimate rather low). From an economic standpoint, this is crazy. Local businesses would love the chance to compete for this money instead of sending it far out of the regional economy.

There are a lot of reasons why students would be best served by using OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. What we need to do is get this information out to where it’s needed–the campus community.

I’ve started a thread at VassarChat to follow up on this topic. Please join us there.

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