When Lehman College shuttered on March 18 and transitioned to virtual services, requests for laptops began flooding the inbox of the college’s COVID-19 Task Force and the office of student affairs.
They launched an online loaner application form for students to fill out if they needed a device, and the college is still taking requests for any student in need. The staff ordered a shipment of Chromebooks, but manufacturers were struggling to meet demands as most students in the country simultaneously moved to remote learning.
Lehman was able to fulfill 170 initial requests for devices by April 3 via UPS. As of today, Lehman has received more than 660 loaner requests from students, the majority of which have either been delivered or are on the way, thanks to additional shipments of devices courtesy of CUNY Central.
Jamarne McGill, a senior, said if it weren’t for the loaner laptop program he would be in quite a jam. The anthropology major didn’t own a computer, so he figured drop out or flunk classes.
“I cannot think of the appropriate way to say this, but thank you,” McGill said on Twitter. “Thank you so much. You saved my life, the entire academic term, my graduation for next year, and all of my future prospects. You are lifesavers indeed. What would I do?”
In addition to his thanks, he posted images of the emails from the College confirming he would indeed be receiving a device to continue his studies, adding a note to one of them: “Like a good neighbor Lehman is there.”
McGill was not the only student who lacked the proper equipment. Some students tried keeping up with their coursework on their phones.
“It is hard and frustrating,” one student said. “I’d like to request a laptop or tablet to continue my work from home. I can’t afford to buy a laptop these days; I can barely afford to pay rent these days.”
One student told the school she was secretly using the computer at her job to file assignments and another reported having to share one computer with a house full of roommates, all of whom were students.
“We were pleased to provide Jay with the Chromebook he needed to continue his studies,” said Vice President for Technology and CIO Ronald Bergmann. “His social media posts were great to see, and we wish him success as he pursues his online education. Jay is one of hundreds of Lehman students who have requested loaners. An extraordinary team of Lehman staff mobilized quickly to prepare devices, driven by their dedication to our students and we owe them our thanks. CUNY’s leadership in providing devices has also been critical.”