Cal State Bakersfield announced Monday that all incoming freshmen and transfer students for the 2021 fall term will be eligible to receive an iPad from the university.
The iPads are being given out as part of a new initiative called CSUCCESS aimed at improving access and equity for students. CSUCCESS stands for California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success. CSUB is one of eight campuses in the CSU system participating.
“We’re happy to be in this initial leadership role for increasing technology support and equity for students in the Central Valley,” CSUB President Lynnette Zelezny said Monday.
CSUB anticipates giving out about 2,700 iPad Airs along with keyboards and styluses to the new students eligible for the program. About 35,000 students are eligible for iPads systemwide.
“This is largest-ever CSU technology device initiative of its kind,” Zelezny said. “It’s a milestone today.”
CSUCCESS is envisioned as an ongoing program that will expand in coming years. The university will also be following the experiences of students who receive an iPad. It’s being funded through a state budget allocation precisely aimed at equity gaps in technology.
“Our prediction is this will be one of those great initiatives that will help them get to the finish line fast,” she said.
That’s a problem in the Central Valley. It’s not unheard of for a student to have to share a desktop computer with their family — or even to write a term paper on their phone, Zelezny said.
Most of CSUB’s students are the first in their families to attend college and 65 percent of undergraduates receive Pell Grants, which indicates financial need.
As classes moved online during the pandemic, it revealed the gulf of the digital divide among students. CSUB loaned hot spots and laptops to nearly 1,000 students to ensure they could continue their education in a distance-learning environment. Though instruction is moving back to physical classrooms in the fall term, this initiative is aimed at bridging the divide that remains.
“The new initiative will establish a foundation for their achievement and has the potential to play a key role in eliminating stubborn equity gaps among our talented and diverse students,” CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said in a statement. “In addition to truly addressing equity and access, we see these as powerful tools as we prepare our students for their future careers.”
The other CSU campuses participating in the initiative are Channel Islands, Fresno, Humboldt, Los Angeles, Maritime Academy, Northridge and San Marcos.
Incoming students who are eligible will be notified in the coming weeks, but Zelezny said eligible students can register at https://its.csub.edu/step/csuccess. Those students who are not eligible for this rollout of the iPads but need help with technology can visit https://its.csub.edu/step for more information.