Why are Cornell’s Mac students being forced to pay for useless Napster?

Cornell University student Ross Blankenship ’05 has written a letter to the editor of The Cornell Daily Sun. The Cornell Daily Sun has published the letter in today’s edition:

There are many problems with the deal that was made between our Student Assembly, Cornell University and Napster Inc. The first is that our Assembly members agreed to something without informing its student body of such a big decision. The decision now gives Cornell students zero options to Napster’s largely incompatible and obsolete service. While 23 Student Assembly members were enjoying Napster for “free” last year during this company’s lobbying campaign, many students either paid for music or did not have the same access to Napster.

Who is to say that Napster offered the “best deal” if 13,500 undergraduates had no say on this or many other online services? Should we not have held a student vote on the issue? With a campus that prides itself in “Rock[ing] the Vote” and keeping students involved, why wasn’t there further research done outside of the oh-so-representative sample of the Student Assembly?

Furthermore, if nearly “20 percent of students could not run the current Napster technology” today with their Macintosh systems, iPods and older Windows operating systems, then why should these students be forced into paying for this service? Besides the resounding technical difficulties that Napster brings, why shouldn’t the student body be able to choose whether they use Napster or some other service, instead of automatically being charged for Napster?

This is another example of Cornell’s fleecing its students and usurping our individual choice. Napster has won and individual student choice is lost. The bottom line is that there are options for students and Napster shouldn’t be the only one.

Related MacDailyNews article:
Napster schools to Mac-using students: bend over and take it – September 04, 2004


  1. treadlightly: Because you CAN drive on them if your journey takes you there. Now, if you paid for road repairs on roads you couldn’t drive on (like private roads for example) then that would be a different story. Get your analogies in order, sir.

  2. treadlightly

    You pay for road repairs so that emergency services can reach you when you need them.

    You pay for road repairs so that delivery trucks can deliver the goods and foods that you need to live.

    You pay for road repairs for the sake of the common good.

    If you don’t like contributing to the common good, move to the wilderness and don’t call an ambulance if you or someone you love falls ill.

    You cannot compare the problem at Cornell to paying for essentials like roads. A music service is not essential.

  3. Why do I pay for road repairs on roads I don’t drive on?

    Roads are a necessity for our transportation system, Napster on the other hand, is not a necessity to a college education and students shouldn’t be forced to pay for something in which some are excluded from using.

  4. Cornell’s press release is here:


    Note in part that it states:

    “All but $25,000 of the cost of the pilot is coming from corporate sponsors. The balance will be paid from an unrestricted gifts fund in Cornell’s Division of Student and Academic Services. In the fall of 2005, the Cornell Student Assembly will decide if the program should be continued, with the cost added to student activity fees.”

    I’m staff, so this service doesn’t affect me one way or the other. I do think it stinks for Mac users and Windows users with iPods.

  5. They were forced to do something. If they didn’t they were liable for the illegal music downloads of the students using their network.

    Want to bet Napster and/or Microsoft picked up most of the corporate sponsorship required. A look at the adds that bombard your computer as you use the service will tell all.

    They coulda had iTunes for free as in beer. Someone somewhere got something for the Napster signup.

  6. The Libertarian idea that personal choice is the best way would have kept this heavy-handed and short-sighted kind of action by the school at bay.

    Man, I get a tear in the eye when I read stuff like that. Decisions like the Cornell one remind me of what happens in some third world countries, and apparently, everywhere to a lesser extent. My knee-jerk reaction to things like this is ask myself WHY and HOW it was arrived at. Usually, some sort of scam or kickback is involved.

    Sometimes these banal decisions are made by one person with some authority, influence or power, based on purely personal reasons such as: knowing the salesman / CEO, falling for a pitch (you’re getting an unprecedented deal ’cause you’re first), or similar.

    My guess here is that it was purely a decision from a know-little imbecile or two. It reflects badly on Cornell.

  7. Seems like the letter explains why Napster got the deal – the student assembly members got it free last year. Do they get it free again this year?

    Why not let those that want it pay for it and the others use what they want?

    Thought Cornell was a better school than this.

  8. So stealing your money to build a road is okay as long as I let you drive on the road – so I guess I can steal your car if I give you a ride to your socialist party meetings.

  9. Dear free marketeer,
    Everytime someones talks about sharing basic resources you imagine them having “socialist party meetings”?

    Oh no! the socialist commies are everywhere! They do secret party meetings and they plan to steal people’s money to build roads and hospitals!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.