Seton Hill University in Greensberg, Pennsylvania was one of the first to announce it would hand out iPads to students – launching the program before Apple’s new tablet computer was even available – now it’s the first enter into legal action against a student over one.
Michael Sellers, 18, enrolled in Seton Hill and was handed his school-mandated iPad and MacBook. He left school shortly after for unspecified reasons.
“On Aug. 18, Michael Sellers signed a contract with Seton Hill University that if he left the university … he would return the iPad within 10 days,” along with the MacBook, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Sellers was contacted by certified letter, but university police say he never responded. When contacted him about the school-issued gear, Sellers told the university police that he no longer had either the iPad or the laptop.
University spokeswoman Kary Coleman said via e-mail that an agreement with students states that the college “retains legal title to the equipment at all times until such time as the school may transfer title thereof to the student.”
Failure to return items within the specified time period is viewed as a default of the agreement, according to university policy.
If all the other universities who dole out iPads and computers have similar policies, we may be seeing a lot of these legal scuffles.
Some of the schools include these computers in the price of tuition. Students in these kind of loan-out agreements, however, may not be clear about who gets to keep the goods – do students who stay the course end up keeping the obsolete machines at graduation or are they still expected to give the four-year-old computers back?
Dennis Jerz, associate professor of English and new media journalism at Seton has this to say about the school’s policy:
“Here at Seton Hill University, current freshmen will trade in their MacBook after two years and get an updated computer. They can take the new computer with them when they graduate, but until then, the laptops are just loaners.
All this is clearly spelled out in the school’s promotional materials and the contract the student signs when picking up the equipment.”
We’re much obliged to Jerz for pointing us in the right direction about Seton’s policy – when rooting around the school website, particularly the splashy iPad microsite, it wasn’t clear how it worked and is fairly easy to imagine 18-year-olds could find the agreements confusing.
Source: Pittsburgh Live