Cal State undermines alumni's savvy business sense
Recent Cal State graduate, Ryan Stevens, recently got into trouble with the Cal State University system for creating NoteUtopia.com, a site selling students' notes, homework, guides and other material related to classes. The site came under fire because California's education code states that students cannot sell or share class notes for money.
I don't really see the big deal here. Students share notes all the time and this practice is, in fact, often encouraged by instructors.
However, like a warlord posting the heads of his victims around his territory to dissuade enemies, the Cal State system is trying to make an example of Ryan Stevens.
Sites like NoteUtopia.com have existed almost as long as the Internet itself. Should NoteUtopia fall, another will surely and swiftly replace it.
Stevens was smart to find a market that needed to be satisfied and Cal State is wrong in trying to undermine his business. If a student summarizes an instructor's lecture in his or her notes, then those notes have become the students' property. If that student then wants to post those notes, it should be well within their rights to do so.
The Cal State System is looking at the site from the wrong angle, seeing the site as a way for students to cheat, when really the site is a way for students to help each other to succeed. Notes are already shared in class and study sessions already involve students using their notes to help one another. NoteUtopia simply streamlines this process.
NoteUtopia should be prohibited from posting class materials that were written by the teacher, but anything that was written by a student should be fair game. Our current cultural zeitgeist is to maximize money and fame, while minimizing workload and effort. People looking to pay for others' hard work will always exist, but this site doesn't seem to be intended for those people. Rather, NoteUtopia seems to be a vehicle for students to help each other succeed and a valuable tool for studying efficiently.