Laptop Loaner Program starts after campus computer labs close

CSUN is expanding the Laptop Loaner Program for currently enrolled students. The Program provides technology to students who are without a computer during the campus closure.

Samantha Bravo, Assistant Campus Editor

Starting April 1, laptops will be available for currently enrolled CSUN students to borrow at no cost at the CSUN Campus Store Complex. The laptops will be distributed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, Monday through Friday.

Due to campus and student concerns regarding COVID-19, the computer labs in the Oviatt Library and University Student Union were closed on March 30. However, the Laptop Loaner Program provides technology to those most in need.

To decrease the possibility of COVID-19 transmission on campus, CSUN officially started virtual instruction on March 23.

CSUN Bookstore Operations Manager Ruben Guiterrez said the campus has been receiving multiple shipments of laptops for students.

“We started with about 124 (laptops) that the campus provided and we found out the day before the campus has another 40, that they’re going to be providing us by sometime today or tomorrow,” Guiterrez said.

According to an email sent by President Dianne F. Harrison, to maintain social distance, it is encouraged that students submit an online “Laptop Loaner Request Form” prior to their bookstore visit. The request form can be found on the myNorthridge portal, under “Student Services.”

Students must register ahead of time and schedule an appointment to pick up their laptops. The student’s name will be on the list of pick up orders for the day, and their student ID is required to check out devices.

Laptops are due on May 22, and students will receive an email where to return them. A student asked if they will be able to extend their laptop loan after May 22, but Guiterrez said he’s unsure.

Parking is available in the F2 Parking lot and the metered parking fees will be waived for students to be able to park and pick up a laptop.

“We still don’t know if we’re going to be the drop off location,” Guiterrez said. “Depending on if the library reopens, but that’s why students need to pay attention to their emails so they can see where to drop it off.”

CSUN senior and kinesiology major Diego Kalayka said he received an email from President Dianne F. Harrison about the availability of laptops for students at the campus bookstore. Kalayka said the transition wasn’t new to him.

“I have taken a lot of online courses, so it wasn’t a big change for me, but some classes like the labs, I’m a kinesiology major so we have to do stretches, so we have to be creative and come up with something for the class,” Kalayka said.

Kalayka is planning on walking this semester. However, he asked CSUN employees about refunds on cap and gowns.

“At this point no one knows anything, (but) I might need the money right now,” Kalayka said.

In addition to providing devices, the CSUN Bookstore partnered with RedShelf and is providing students with seven free eBooks from participating publishers amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. Access runs through May 25.

“Physical distancing of six-feet or more will be followed at all times,” Harrison said in the email. “Please continue to practice physical distancing of six feet apart or more in your own lives, thoroughly wash your hands, and follow other recommended hygiene protocols.”

Course Material Manager Robert Munck said during the first hour of operations, 20 out of 33 students who made appointments have picked up their laptops.

“Just from what we heard from people coming in already, a lot of them seem to be very thankful, more importantly for those people otherwise troubled with getting their assignments done,” Munck said. “I think it’s great that the university is doing this.”

Matador Bookstore Director Amy Berger said this is the first time she has experienced this in her 23 years working at CSUN.

“This is the first time we’ve had anything like this happen, in my lifetime,” Berger said. “We had 9/11 and that shut things down for a few days, we had the earthquake but that was very localized to this area, we had fires but those are usually just temporary, but not anything like this that really affects the whole world.”

“I think this is great that the university is able to provide these computers for students to use,” Berger continued. “We also have free eBooks for students to use, download them for free, and we are also offering free shipping for students who need the (physical) book.”

The campus bookstore has limited the amount of students who can enter the store at the same time to 50 or less and has laid out the store to follow social distance guidelines.

“We laid out the design of the store so that everybody can stay six feet apart,” Berger said. “We have been keeping up with the constant cleaning and trying to keep the germs down.”

Information Technology has compiled resources for users experiencing internet connectivity issues. On its webpage, IT lists Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse, which provides low-cost or free technology for those in need.

IT Director of User Support Services Ryan Conlogue said they are preparing additional laptops and are evaluating demand to cover as many students as possible.

Information regarding rental textbooks check-ins or returns can be found on the CSUN Campus Store website. According to the site, due to COVID-19 concerns, students can ship them via a free FedEx return label. The store is also providing free shipping with no minimum purchase to the entire campus store.

“While the due date for rented books has not changed, the ‘non-return charge date’ has been extended 15 days past your current return due date to allow time for your mailed book to reach the store,” the site states. “To avoid late charges, please have your book in transit by the due date.”