Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: BU needs to give students their Google Drive storage back

Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.

Jacob Sanchez (COM ‘27) is a first-year Film and Television student in the College of Communication and a Producer of “Pop Showdown” on BUTV10 at Boston University. He wrote this piece with the input of several of his peers in the Department of Film and Television and BUTV10, but it does not reflect the position of either organization.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

In early 2021, Google announced that it was ending its policy that provided free Google Drive cloud storage to educational institutions. 

In light of this, Boston University informed students earlier this year that their Google Drive storage, which previously had a limit of 210 terabytes, or 210,000 gigabytes, would be reduced to just 15 gigabytes after the end of the semester — the amount Google provides for free to basic accounts. 

This announcement was followed by another from the university that informed students that the cost of attendance for undergraduate students would be increasing to over $90,000 a year.

Thousands of BU students use Google Drive daily for class assignments, extracurriculars and personal projects. By capping their storage so low at 15 gigabytes, students will be forced to remove files from their drives to fit the quota or face losing any data that pushes storage over the limit.

For reference, 15 gigabytes of storage can hold between six or seven movies, less than one-tenth of the newest Call of Duty game or about 5,000 photos taken by the new iPhone. Speaking of which, if students were to buy the first generation iPhone, which came out with a 16-gigabyte version in 2008, it would still have more storage capacity than BU students will have on their Google Drive by summer. 

With this in mind, I feel expected to make a mere 15 gigabytes last my entire college education, but as a student facing that quota, I disagree. 

This storage limit will also impact BU Gmail accounts, meaning students who hit the storage limit will be unable to send and receive emails. 

While all BU students will feel the effects of this policy, students in the College of Communication will be especially impacted. 

COM students require sufficient cloud storage for their coursework. For instance, Film and Television students have to store, share and access large numbers of video files using Google Drive for many of our assignments and projects — which take up much space. Having only 15 gigabytes of storage will severely hamper our ability to complete coursework. 

As a producer for BUTV10, I know we work very hard to produce 14 high-production-value shows on shoestring budgets. The new policy means that we may have to dip into our already limited funds to pay for extra cloud storage. Sharing files instantly using Google Drive is necessary due to the number of students working on various aspects of each show’s production. 

These files are ginormous. The show I work on, “Pop Showdown,” has episodes that consist of over 50 gigabytes of video files alone. If we were to have to pay for the necessary storage ourselves, we might be paying $15 a month — almost half our yearly budget — just to store files, which emphasizes the necessity for the university to continue providing this service. 

Some have proposed a compromise where the university provides students with portable hard drives to store their work. While well-intentioned, this is not a viable solution, as the digital media production industry is using, and will continue to use, the cloud for file storage and sharing. 

Additionally, COM Dean Mariette DiCristina has announced the purchase of 30 terabytes of cloud storage for COM’s usage. COM Director of Technology Brad Fernandes specified that it was to be used for coursework and should not be used for personal files, with courses being allotted space and public folders. That is still simply not enough. If divided equally amongst all 2,386 full-time COM students last academic year, each student would only be allotted about 12.5 gigabytes of storage.

Without sufficient Google Drive storage and no comparable alternatives, BU students will be unprepared to enter the workforce in their respective fields of study. 

This is especially alarming for those in COM because, with how hands-on our education is, gaining preparation for the workforce comes largely from the work we produce now, which we would very much like to hold on to.

In light of this alarming reduction in storage, I believe BU should take the necessary steps to provide their students with adequate cloud storage. Anything less I believe would be penny-pinching at the cost of their students’ productive needs and interests.

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One Comment

  1. So glad this issue is getting coverage. Email your professors, advisors, and Dean to request more adequate accommodations be made.