The computer lab on Middleton Library’s second floor is set to close in May, and students are not happy.
Wi-Fi improvements are now a major priority for Information Technology Services and the Student Technology Oversight Fee Committee, and funds typically used for computer lab maintenance are being reallocated.
“There’s like 100 people up here right now,” said Auldyn Dantoni, mechanical engineering senior and student worker, during her Monday afternoon shift at the Middleton computer lab. “Where are they going to go?”
At its Feb. 20 meeting, the STF Oversight Committee finalized its decision to move forward with closing the computer lab on Middleton’s second floor and in the Student Union.
Dantoni said she was shocked when she heard the news.
“I’m hopeful their take on this is correct,” said Elaine Smyth, interim dean of Libraries. “They have to make those hard financial decisions about where to put resources.”
But some students aren’t happy with the decision.
“If someone has a petition to have this not happen, I’d sign it,” communication disorders senior Alanna Dumas said.
The STFOC has an obligation to use student fees responsibly, and the closure decision was made to increase and expand upon technological resources for students, said Thomas Rodgers, Student Government graduate council president, in an email.
Trey Schwartzenburg, SG Senate speaker pro tempore, said he thinks the STFOC made the right decision, which will benefit students in the long run.
Last semester, the STF Oversight Committee conducted a survey to better understand how students use technology on campus. The survey showed that more than 90 percent of the 2,339 participants owned laptops, more than 80 percent owned smartphones and approximately 30 percent owned tablets.
Jane Cassidy, STFOC chairperson and vice provost for Human Resources and Facilities Management, said the decision was unanimous and data-driven.
“This is not something we decided lightly,” Cassidy said, “and I really think the committee did its due diligence.”
Schwartzenburg said the committee feels this is a good statistic for representation of the student body.
However, not every University student will always have reliable access to a machine they own.
“When I transferred here, I didn’t have a computer,” Dumas said, “and I only got one two months ago.”
Dumas said the bottom floor of Middleton is always congested and too loud, and students have a better chance to conduct study groups on the second floor.
“I’d rather have slow Internet than have them take away the computers [on the second floor],” said Anelcia Rayford, psychology sophomore.
Rayford and Dumas said they feel like the committee made this decision without being properly informed, and the students using the lab have not had a say.
“You’re taking away one of my resources,” Dumas said.
Students are also concerned with what will become of the empty space afterward.
“I hope it doesn’t just turn into more bookspace,” Dantoni said.
The library should be a place where students may work and study, Smyth said, and the emptied area will be immediately available as study space once the machines are moved out.
Smyth said concerned students should make sure they know where other computer labs are on campus.
After the upper Union and second floor Middleton closures are completed, the remaining computer labs will be in 1302 Patrick F. Taylor Hall and Middleton’s first floor. The Pleasant Hall Math Lab will not be impacted.
“[We are] not looking at it as closing labs, we’re looking at it as diverting resources,” Schwartzenburg said.