Speaking Out

Faculty's Remote Access to Web

In response to administration plans to force faculty to pay for their own Web access, I point out that the Statutes of the University prohibit decreasing a faculty member's compensation during the term of appointment. But for the University to require faculty to pay from their own funds for access to PennNet, which administration induced faculty to rely upon and to need to perform their duties, is effectually to lower their compensation. It is not like the telephone which is primarily for personal use and the need for which was developed outside academic activites.

One solution is for University to negotiate with DSL providers to offer faculty a reduced rate (say 1/3 the commercial rate) for unlimited direct net access--which won't tie up private phone lines and can be deducted as a business expense. The changeover could then be voluntary with the backup option of Penn provided access still alive.

--James F. Ross, Professor of Philosophy and Law

Response on Remote Access

The change in policy and practice regarding remote access to PennNet was accomplished after a broad and extensive consultative process across the Penn community, on recommendation from the Network Planning Task Force. I respectfully disagree with the premise that charging for or eliminating a service constitutes a reduction in compensation: if this were so, then an increasing in parking fees would be impermissible, or, for that matter, the imposition of any new fee not charged in the past. Technology and economics conspire together (but mainly technology) to compel us to make this transition.

Happily, there are many kinds of Internet Service Providers available and documented through our web site (www.upenn.edu/computing/remote/index.html), including ISP's who give customers internet access at no charge. Questions about these options may be directed to our staff at remote-access@isc.upenn.edu, and we will be happy to assist those seeking new services to understand their options.

--James J. O'Donnell, Professor of Classical Studies, Vice Provost, Information Systems and Computing

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues can be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 30, April 25, 2000

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