News | Student Life

Activities Board at Columbia working on free equipment rental program

  • EQUIP ME | ABC President Tony Lee, CC '14, hopes to reduce student groups' technology costs with a free equipment rental program.

The Activities Board at Columbia wants to create a communal equipment rental program that aims to drive down technical costs and improve equipment quality for student groups that might otherwise have to rent from University Events Management.

The idea came from limitations that clubs like the Korean Students Association and CU Bhangra faced when acquiring equipment, ABC Vice President Nikhil Krishnan, CC ’14 and the captain of CU Bhangra, said in an email.

While students can currently rent equipment from Barnard’s Instructional Media and Technology Services for free, Krishnan said the pieces available are “limited.” Columbia’s University Events Management also offers free equipment rentals, but student groups need to have a member trained by UEM or pay for labor fees ranging from $34 for small events to $20 per hour per technician for larger events.

ABC President Tony Lee, CC ’15, said the equipment program is still in its early stages, but aims to ultimately reduce technology costs for student groups.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say that the policy has to do with specific concerns with how UEM or BIMTS deal with their equipment.” he said. “The main idea behind the policy is that we want to find creative ways of lowering groups’ tech costs in general.”

“Having a governing board make a one-time large purchase and have that become a pool of equipment that student groups can use free of charge would be a good way of reducing costs,” he added.

Lee said he drew inspiration from a similar Student Governing Board program that lends out projectors and screens to member groups.

“That’s a pretty good idea,” Lee said. “So why don’t we scale it even larger?”

He said ABC is currently asking member groups what kind of equipment they are looking for, as well as seeking additional financial support from student councils and other club governing boards.

“The councils have been very active in reaching out to us about how they can reach out to student groups,” Lee said, adding that SGB and UEM have both expressed support.

Last year, the Korean Students Association had to cut a full-length film presentation for the club’s annual culture show into a short teaser video because members couldn’t get a microphone from UEM compatible with their camera, KSA Program Officer Michelle Yuen Lee, SEAS ’16, said. Because KSA also doesn’t have a member trained by UEM, they had to pay for technicians.

“We had some logistical issues, so we ended up just making a teaser film,” Yuen Lee said. “We have to raise so much money. There’s so much money that goes into it ... We’re really trying to save every penny we can.”

Krishnan said ABC is currently working with UEM to see how the project could fit into UEM’s own internal policies and system for renting equipment. 

“We’re hoping that this program will give more groups access to resources that they have traditionally needed in the past,” he said.

rana.hilal@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ra_hilal

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