This semester, Office 365 ProPlus software is available for Macalester students to download for no charge. The initiative comes as an expansion of Macalester College’s site license with Microsoft.
Now, Macalester students can access Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus Microsoft’s online portal. They can log in with a Macalester username and password to access the free download.
According to Rachel Weaver, Associate Director of Support Services for Information Technology Services (ITS), the primary push for making the software more accessible came from Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) and the Academic Information Associates, an organization of Macalester employees that works within ITS and the Digital Resource Center (DRC).
While the original agreement has been in place for many years, it didn’t allow for free Microsoft Office downloads on student computers until recently. Previously, students could buy Microsoft Office online or at the Highlander bookstore for $149.99, which presented a significant economic barrier to many Macalester students.
“This program is super helpful for the academic goals of all students,” MCSG Community Engagement Officer Fatiya Kedir ’21 said. “I have a Mac computer and always thought getting Microsoft Office was really important, but it was too expensive and inaccessible.”
For the last several years, Macalester has offered Microsoft Office software to faculty at a discount but has struggled to find a cost-effective means of doing the same for students. The licensing agreement between Microsoft and Macalester dictates the conditions by which the college can provide Microsoft Office resources to students and faculty.
“Our licensing has never allowed us to offer Microsoft to students for use on their own computers,” Weaver wrote. “We were able to give students access to Office in computer labs, but that can be inconvenient, especially for students who live off campus.”
After a semester of negotiating, ITS completed the full implementation of the program early last week.
Weaver hopes that expanding the college’s licensing agreement with Macalester will provide students with more opportunities for academic success. She also expects that having access to Office 365 ProPlus will ensure students can obtain hands-on experience with the software that can aid in future employment opportunities.
“We hope that this will make it easier for the campus community to access software that is critical for their work and scholarship and especially hope that it lowers or removes a barrier to student success here at Macalester,” Weaver wrote. “There is an expectation that students will have experience using these products proficiently in graduate school or in jobs and internships during and after college.”