Is the JAVE card a waste of money?

Journalism students are presented with a dilemma, either buy the $55 JAVE (Journalism Audio-Video Equipment) cards or buy their own equipment.

The JAVE card is only to be used for one class per semester and needs to be purchased per course. The card is non-refundable when purchased at the bookstore and also has other limits applied, such as the allotted short timeslot for students to sign out equipment for course work.

“I think that all extra fees on top of your education, 99 per cent of any extra fees are not fair,” says Sue Ferguson, the journalism program coordinator.

Ferguson also feels that the province should be covering the costs, rather than downloading it onto students.

“The province should be funding post-secondary education in such a way that universities don’t start to nickel and dime students. That’s what I totally believe,” says Ferguson.

According to Ferguson, the card was created to provide a revenue stream for journalism equipment. The journalism program, which began in 2005, had an arrangement for third year broadcast and public relation students with Conestoga College to use their equipment; therefore, the Journalism Program did not see the need to buy a lot of equipment.

With the decadal money provided by the university, basic cameras and software were bought and the JAVE card was a way to ensure students would have responsibility for the use and maintenance of the equipment. The card has been in use since 2006.

Due to a lack of equipment, some students are not able to readily use equipment when needed. Students in Reporting and Writing II as well as students in Photography have had difficulties with the amount of equipment available for student usage.

Simon Wilson, the Photography professor for last semester experienced some difficulties with the card system. With a class of 16 students and five cameras, Wilson’s biggest problem was with the little time allotted for the use of cameras.

“We need more cameras for the number of students that are in the class and some of the equipment is outdated and needs to be replaced. I had 16 students and all 16 needed to use the JAVE card system,” said Wilson.

Every year, journalism students put forth $75 towards the Journalism Guild fee on top of their tuition payment. Unfortunately, this money cannot be put towards equipment for the students.

“The Ontario government has this rule where they dictate how much a school can charge for tuition and the Journalism Guild; we can’t use our funds to purchase camera equipment and other equipment because then it can be seen as the school going around the governments mandated tuition limits,” says Christina Van Starkenburg, the president of the Journalism Guild.

Navneet Bajwa, a first-year journalism student has first-hand experience with the JAVE card.

“I think that the JAVE card is useless because there is very little equipment for a large amount of people to use for a project. I think they should lower the price down for that card or get more equipment so that every student can use it, because I don’t have that kind of money,” says Bajwa.

The JAVE card system is not a perfect system for students, but it allows an alternative to spending hundreds of dollars on a top quality camera for only one semester’s use, and other expensive equipment. Until there is more money funded towards equipment, the JAVE card is the best option for journalism students.

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