Mandatory Kool-Aid: the University of Missouri’s journalism school has just adopted a policy making ownership of an iPhone (or iPod Touch) mandatory for each incoming freshman.

The justification does have some logic: the idea is that an electronic recording device (for recording lectures) should be standard equipment for any student. I actually have no problem with that reasoning.

But this policy fails to consider the possibility that a student might already own some other suitable device, or just might prefer to choose something other than an iPhone or iPod. A university representative acknowledged this possibility but offered an incomprehensible justification for their policy:

Brooks said that any MP3 player could actually be used.

“You could use a Zune, for example,” he said.

But he said the Apple devices, which start at $200 apiece, were made official requirements for the benefit of students on financial aid.

“If it’s required, it can be included in your financial-need estimate,” he told the Missourian. “If we had not required it, they wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Huh? Am I to understand that their financial-need estimates have to be based on pricing of specific models of products? Couldn’t they just say that each student is required to own an audio recording device, and base the estimate on a reasonable market price for such a device?

I guess this means that students also have to specify exactly which brand of paper and pencils they plan to use. College is so much more complicated than it was in my day.