Office of the Controller Plans Tech Rental Program


Gwendolyn Wu
AS Beat Reporter

The Associated Students Office of the Controller will be implementing a new tech rental program to lend out phone chargers, iClickers, and calculators for a small fee. They aim to roll out the first parts of the program in fall 2015.

Additionally, the office will lend out laptop chargers and a projector, and will also work with the AS Media Center to provide HD cameras and camcorders. Currently, the technology that can be borrowed is limited, but the office plans to expand its selection based on student interest. Items can be borrowed for various lengths of time, from four hours to an entire quarter. Small fees would be charged to BARC to borrow the items.

The AS Senate voted to direct the AS Ticket Office, along with the Office of the Controller and Assistant Director of Business Services, to begin working on the project in an email vote on July 22. In the Office of the Controller’s proposal, AS Controller Winnie Ouyang said that they hoped to begin loaning items to students by fall quarter. However, there is no set start date for the program.

Loan Prices
Graphic courtesy of Associated Students Office of the Controller.

The rental program may have a great impact on students who find themselves away from their rooms during the day. To study how the program would be most effective, Ouyang and others in the Office of the Controller pulled statistics from CSUs with similar projects, and UCSB’s testbed iClicker rentals during spring 2015. At California State University, Monterey Bay, more than 133 students rented out technology for the fall 2014 semester, while at California State University, Sacramento, nine percent of their students borrowed laptops. In spring 2015 at UCSB, 40 iClickers were loaned out, while 61 reservations were made online. The researchers concluded that this was due to most students having purchased one during fall or winter quarter.

“Nine percent and 2% does seem low, but CSUS has a student population of about 29,000, which means about 2,700 students used their technology rental program,” wrote Ouyang in an email. “Many people have the means to buy iClickers, chargers, and calculators, but there are always moments of need.”

There are plans to expand the program if it is successful. With enough student demand, the Office of the Controller would consider merging with the AS Media Center to provide all the technology in one place. Additionally, profits from loaning out items would go toward purchasing more equipment, especially those in demand, such as additional phone and laptop chargers. Some equipment, such as iClickers, may be purchased from the Free and For Sale page on Facebook, which is accessible to all UCSB students with a confirmed university email address.

There are still some obvious problems with the program. The renting procedure may not be efficient enough, there could be some liability issues (which will be covered by fees charged to the renter’s BARC account), and it may not be publicized well enough. Despite this, the team will continue to work and solve these issues.

“The best part of our projects is that they can evolve,” wrote John Zhong, Assistant Controller, in an email. “We plan on putting out a relatively small number and collect data. If the results coming back suggest that we can expand it into a larger scale, we would immediately start the procedure and prep for a new round next quarter.”

With the exception of the AS Media Center and library laptop rentals, there are currently no programs on campus that provide this service to students. Few, if any, UCs have similar tech rental programs, with the exception of library laptop/iPad rentals.

“In the short term, it’s going to fill up part of the current student body’s need for the needed items that they don’t want to purchase,” wrote Zhong. “In the long term, I would boldly imagine that our service would become the go-to option for students looking for iClickers and calculators, and even other devices that might be provided in the future.”