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COMmon Assets

by Stella Lorence

photography courtesy of BU COM Twitter

In an increasingly technological world, preparing for the workforce often mandates an education focused around the use of advanced technological tools. Boston University’s own College of Communication has embraced this trend towards great utilization of technology, giving students access to a wide range of professional filming, recording and studio equipment. But, how much is all of this worth?

“I couldn’t even begin to calculate how much all the technology in the college is worth,” said Maureen Mahoney, the Senior Assistant Dean of the College of Communication, in an email. “I know it would be quite expensive to have to replace everything at once. Therefore, we replace or upgrade some equipment annually.”

Mahoney said that the technology department decides what to upgrade and replace each year.

“Our tech staff consistently goes above and beyond in helping students navigate our technology to obtain the best outcome for their experience and projects,” Mahoney said. “COM works very hard to furnish the student body with the most up to date equipment, software, and hardware to provide the best learning environment available.”

Renee Napinger (COM ‘19), a film and television major, said that she has rented equipment from COM about four times since she has been at BU and that it has always been for a class.

“Being able to rent is crucial to being able to actually learn stuff because if we can’t actually do it, it’s really hard to be able to learn it,” Napinger said.

Mahoney said that some of the cameras students have access to can cost around $50,000 or more.

“The University as a whole negotiates with companies for the best prices for the University,” Mahoney said. “COM is not made aware of the specifics of any of these negotiations.”

Mahoney also said that COM budgets about $400,000 annually to purchase and maintain equipment.

$400,000 each year may seem like a lot, but not necessarily in the context of the university as a whole.

According to a BU Today article published in October of 2017, “BU closed its budget for the fiscal year ending June 30 with a record $180.3 million in operating reserves, capital that will be reinvested in the University’s academic mission and other needs.”

It can be hard for students to see how BU’s wealth trickles down and affects them directly.

“For as much as BU costs, it’d be nice to have nicer equipment, but I guess in terms of our class as kind of a starter class, in that case, it’s fine,” Eva Pearson (COM ‘20) said of the introductory-level Film & Television course, COM FT 201.

Pearson said that she uses COM equipment about once a week for weekly projects in FT 201. She also said that she owns some of her own equipment.

“I have my own stuff because I am a film and TV major, so I’ve just had my own equipment for a while,” Pearson said.

Nevertheless, most students are grateful for the opportunity to get hands-on experience with professional equipment without spending thousands of dollars.

“I’ve used [rented equipment] a couple times for my film and TV class,” Grace Fischetti (CAS ‘21) said. “I don’t know if I want to do film and TV for any kind of major or minor, so it’s good that I don’t have to buy a camera because I feel like that might deter me from taking the course.”

Students inquiring about renting equipment should refer to the Field Production Services located in the basement of the College of Communication at 640 Commonwealth Avenue.

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