By Michael Samuels 09F
If you give a Hampshire student free software, they’ll probably use it. If you give a Hampshire student free software, and teach them why free software matters, they’ll probably choose free software in the future. They might even become activists for free culture.
That’s the idea behind a new initiative by the student group LibrePlanet/Students for Free Culture.
For years, incoming students have received a USB drive along with orientation materials and dorm room keys. This year, the USBs had download links for all of the free software a college student could need – internet browsers, research and study helpers, media editing programs, and a few less-serious extras.
The USBs also included information about LibrePlanet/Students for Free Culture, the difference between free software and proprietary software, and “why free software matters.”
“Free software is a matter of liberty, not price,” reads the group’s Free Software Introduction. “Free software is defined by the freedom to use, study, change, and share it.”
On arrival at Hampshire, students are already given the power to design their “majors” and direct their own learning. Now, they’re also given the power to control their software.