Students returned to campus this fall to various changes; one is the elimination of the 24-hour computer lab previously located on the first floor of Smith Hall.
A survey was taken of 600 students last spring, most of whom owned a personal laptop or desktop computer and therefore used the Computer Lab mainly for printing. Derek Densberger, Director of Information Technology Department, alongside other IT members and administration, decided it was in the best interest of the university to shut down the lab.
After a school-wide budget cut of $2.5 million, the IT Department, as well as each department on campus, was forced to reevaluate its spending and make budget changes. In addition to the $50,000 that was spent on the lab’s student worker wages were the $75,000 for the routine computer updates every three years.
“We did expect some backlash from the students,” Densberger said. “But after monitoring the usage for two years in the computer lab and seeing that between the hours of 8 p.m. and 9 a.m. numbers were very low, we had to make some changes in order to be cost efficient.”
Returning students were confronted with this change without prior warning, which has caused a stir on campus.
“I think it is the general consensus of the students that this is not a positive change,” senior Jamie Bransom said.
Many students claim that although they had their own computers, they relied on the lab as a place to study or print. Others are concerned with the lack of computers and printers available prior to finals week.
Senior Amanda Lawson agreed with Bransom, saying, “Realistically, what other universities do not have a 24-hour computer lab open for their students?”
Although students saw this as a step back for the university, Densberger defended the decision.
“Many schools spend three to four years slowly making the financial adjustments Vanguard has had to make in the past six months,” Densberger said. “And with that comes hard decisions.”
The IT Department and administration will continually discuss and reevaluate this adjustment.
Although the 24-hour computer lab is not an option at this time, students can take advantage of a few other places on campus for their typing and printing needs. There are a number of smaller department labs available to students. In addition to the Math and Science lab on the first floor of the library, primarily used for classroom teaching, ten computers were put on the second floor. It will be accessible during open hours. Also, the computer classroom located in Scott Academic Center will be open for 24 hours two weeks prior to finals.
Students are encouraged to go to the IT department with any questions or concerns regarding this change.