CSM petitions funding of Adobe licenses, college district eyes possible alternatives

CSM student government urges everyone around the college district to participate

A student senator is spearheading an online petition in an effort to ease students’ plight with accessibility to Adobe Creative Cloud, which are primary tools prescribed by digital and multimedia arts professors in their courses.
Adobe Inc. provided a free Adobe Creative Cloud license to students in the second half of 2020’s spring semester, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting face-to-face instruction. However, it ended, as Adobe Inc. decided to discontinue the free Adobe License, leaving students unsettled by the interruption in their access to the software.
Associated Students of College of San Mateo (ASCSM) Senator Anna Mahoney started an online petition through Change.org, after expressing sympathy for those of her fellow students who do not have access to the software.
“I asked what I could do to make it happen, that we could get Adobe Creative Cloud back,” Mahoney said. “Talking to (Fauzi Hamadeh) and (Aaron Schaefer), they told me the best thing to do is to start a petition and then schedule a meeting with someone to talk about it.”


Mahoney is enrolled in music classes and is CSM’s More Than Music Club president. Since last semester, she has been using software like Adobe Audition and Adobe Premiere Pro to edit and combine her class’s audio and video materials. However, ever since the free Adobe license became unavailable, she no longer has the luxury to do so.
“Not everyone has the money to buy Premiere Pro or some other sort of editing software,” Mahoney said. “Now that we’re in-person, they have no way to access it without having to spend their own money after paying hundreds of dollars to take the classes to begin with.”
ASCSM backed and endorsed the online petition for the college district to fund Adobe Creative Cloud license to all students across SMCCCD on Nov. 11. They invite students from all three colleges to sign.

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Solutions offered
CSM Director of Community Relations and Marketing Richard Rojo provided information on the latest developments concerning the situation.
“The district has tried repeatedly to get Adobe to reconsider its decision, to no avail,” Rojo wrote in an email.
He described how the SMCCCD is working very hard to find a way to provide access for students that is not cost-prohibitive.
“The cost would be a new expense for the district Information Technology Services and is therefore not in the budget,” Rojo wrote. “It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy the software for all students.”
The district came up with two possible solutions.
The first solution is to reach out to the college district’s instructors and find out which courses offered from the three colleges require the use of Adobe Creative Cloud.
“Once we know which courses require (Adobe Creative Cloud), we can find ways either to license software for the enrolled students or loan a computer to the student with the software installed,” Rojo wrote. “Our goal is to have this solution in place for spring 2021. … Most likely it would be only for students enrolled in (the courses for which having Adobe is a requirement). … We hope to provide some combination of loaner computers, licenses, and perhaps other solutions.”
The second option is to provide remote desktop access for students working from home.
“This would allow students to login to the district computer network and use Adobe Creative Cloud as if they were on campus,” Rojo wrote. “Our goal is to have this solution in place in late spring 2021.”
Rojo also mentioned the website CollegeBuys.Org, which allows students purchase licenses for Adobe Creative Cloud that will last for 6 or 12 months at a discounted price.
However, some students did not have a good experience purchasing from said website. Digital Media Professor Vera Fainshtein described her students’ experience as a “nightmare.”
“Several students actually have never received a link to install the software on the computer,” she said. “They paid for the product and they have not received the product. Some of them ended up waiting for three or four weeks to get the link and have access to the software. It was definitely nerve-wracking.”
Some of Fainshtein’s students told her that they cannot afford to pay for the $20 discounted subscription, especially considering they “are already paying for textbooks and tuition.”
She also mentioned that not having a desktop powerful enough to run Adobe software has been another problem for students, so she and her peers came up with a plan.
“We, the digital media program, wrote a proposal to get a grant,” she said.
Using the grant that they have been awarded, the digital media department supplies brand new Dell laptops that students can borrow for the duration of a semester.
The next step
Mahoney said that she would reach out to the associated students of Cañada College and Skyline College soon to convene and discuss the petition.
Neither associated students from Cañada nor Skyline College have yet commented on this issue.
In September, The Skyline View published an article that describes how faculty and students deplored the discontinuance of access to Adobe Creative Cloud as they start the fall 2020 semester finding the means by which to keep up with their classes and alternatives to Adobe that can be utilized.
The article mentions that Cañada College Professor Emanuela Quaglia said that having students use Adobe Creative Cloud for free is an “investment” in them, as the students would soon be part of the workforce and would be using the software “forever.”