Fewer Computer Labs Impact Students
Students campus-wide have been confused searching for answers and solutions as the computer labs have been removed from the residence halls and community buildings at UNCP. As recently as spring 2018, the campus residence halls of Cypress, Pine and Oak, as well as the community buildings at the campus apartment complexes of Courtyard and Village, all contained computer labs. The labs were open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for students to do schoolwork or provide their own paper for printing. The facilities gave students convenient access to desktop computers in their dorms, which many of them found very useful for completing assignments, particularly at night. “They were really useful and very convenient. I didn’t have to go all the way to the UC to print something out, I could simply go downstairs and do all my work,” said junior Marica Thomas. The University removed the computer labs from both the residence halls and the community buildings as part of a university-wide change in May 2018. Housing and Residence Life as well as UNCP’s Division of Information Technology contacted students via email in August about the change and cited the computer warranty as a primary reason behind the move. “The computers in our residence labs are no longer under warranty and are in general disrepair as a result. The warranty expiration for the Dell OptiPlex 3010 computers in all five residential computer labs was May 2016,” said HRL and DOIT in their joint email. The removal of the computers was in response to the 2016 expiration date which has made students question why the computers were removed two years after the warranty expired. UNCP also cited other reasons for the removal of the labs, but students have not been satisfied with the explanation given. One reason given was that nonresidential students cannot access residence hall computer labs. Housing stated that since there are other 24/7 computer labs on campus accessible to all students, that residence hall labs are not necessary. The two computer labs that stay open on campus the latest are the Chavis University Center and Mary Livermore Library. Both labs close at 11:30 p.m. and midnight respectively throughout the week.
In the email,the university acknowledges the students’ personal computers as a motivator for the change. “Since a majority of students on campus already have laptops, is it still necessary for computer labs to be placed in the residence halls,” the email stated. Students found the reasoning to be particularly outrageous, saying that students’ economic backgrounds vary at such a diverse college and that it’s not right to assume students can afford laptops when the school has shown that they can provide computers. “I don’t understand why they’d take it away under the assumption that we all have laptops. And most of us don’t have printers. How do you know if you’ve never asked?” said Jennifer Parker. Parker’s statement raised an interesting point about he level of communication between Housing/Technology and the student body on this issue. In addition to removing the computers in May when students would be out of school, unable to dispute the change, the office has not followed up on the initial email with any discourse for students who disagree with the move. To the school’s credit, they stated that Hall Councils along with the Residence Hall Association would be conducting a survey to discuss the future of the computer labs. In the meantime, they have also left five computers in each lab while the students and faculty discuss which direction to move in going forward. They also provided a number where students can contact the Office of Housing and Residence Life to ask questions about the issue. No survey has been given out to this point and the number given to the students is the same line for general inquiries and complaints about a student’s personal dorm, not a forum to discuss the lab removal specifically. RHA President, Ayanna Williams found the level of communication between Housing/Technology and the students to be unsatisfactory. She believes that students and staff both could do a better job of communicating in a more official capacity. “A lot of students have been voicing their concerns. You hear a lot of people around campus. RHA would love to hear what they have to say about it,” Williams said.
Credits: Photo by Tyana Morris, Photo Editor