<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Dismayed student contests CIT’s closure of Biggs

To the Editors:

It is with great frustration that I write in response to John Bucher’s declaration that CIT plans to close the Biggs computer lab next year.

First, the decision to close down this computer lab was done in an extremely misguided manner and secondly, the communication with the student body concerning this issue has been absolutely unacceptable. This lab has been used less and less each academic year for classes. Its main purpose most recently has been as a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week computer facility for students.

Mr. Bucher did not cite how he “discovered” that the lab is used lightly.

The evidence informing CIT that Biggs is unused is apparently largely anecdotal and it does not seem that Bucher has done any concrete research into the issue of usage. I propose; however, that students do use Biggs.

I have used Biggs a number of times this semester and in the past to write papers, email and do other things at many different hours of the day. I have never been alone in Biggs and so, Mr. Bucher, anecdotally; I find through my experience that the lab is used.

The space issues to which Bucher refers are that ResLife will be moving from Peters to Biggs to free up space in Peters for faculty offices. I have a proposal that will allow ResLife to move out of its offices while retaining Biggs as a computer lab.

ResLife, which has control of many dorm and non-dorm buildings, could use one of the houses on Woodland or elsewhere to set up their offices while preserving the Biggs Lab and also allowing the faculty to get the office space they need. ResLife has plenty of space to setup offices and should not cause closure of a needed and used facility.

If indeed this decision was made largely at the behest of ResLife, then the administration would be well advised to put a leash on ResLife, which has made or has attempted to make too many contentious top-down decisions without the proper communication or mass student involvement.

ResLife has unpopularly increased room fees, increased board fees, changed housing rules and tried to administer new ID card policies, amongst other things, without ever properly informing students of these changes. ResLife is a business, which, because it runs as a monopoly, can perform its tasks with little answerability for its lack of effective “customer service.”

Bucher does not unfortunately provide any insight into where a new 24-hour computing facility will be located, but I assure you that it would probably take up lounge space in dorms on north campus.

Instead of scattering computers around several dorms on north campus wouldn’t it make more sense financially and administratively to keep the computers in Biggs?

According to Mr. Bucher, CIT has some exciting and big plans for us next year. I find it difficult to satisfy myself in knowing that instead of having a Biggs computer lab, the College has decided that perhaps the asinine proposal of putting computers in Stevenson and wireless internet in East will somehow alleviate both student frustration and the problem of having no readily available 24-hour computer lab.

Moreover, in every computer lab on campus food and drink are prohibited, why would you put computers in an area where food and drink will necessarily be. This is a useless proposal, and in addition, I don’t really think that we all have a dire need to email or surf the web while eating the delicious Stevie fare.
In regards to wireless in East, Mr. Bucher, what does this have to do with the issue of taking away a campus computer lab, and, also, why does one need wireless in a dorm where there are internet connections in every room? Perhaps instead of wireless in East you could put that money towards a higher print quota instead of wasting it on an unnecessary new wireless system.

Mr. Bucher and the Administration did not ask for my input on this issue, nor were they able to communicate to the students in an informative and professional manner why this measure is really necessary, which leads me to my second point.

This College’s communication with students and involvement of students in decision-making is abysmal. If the College values the students who come here and would like to preserve the integrity of the student body it would do well to involve us in decisions, both in process and notification.

Instances such as the closing of Biggs, the incorporation of a new and substantially lowered print quota, the increase in tuition and in both ResLife and dining costs, the closure of the MRC and other such issues are instances in which the College has lacked communication. It has neither allowed nor called for students to participate in the decision making process; or has not communicated with us well concerning the decisions that are pending or have been made.

I urge Nancy Dye, the administration, the faculty and the board of trustees to consider what they are doing by excluding the students. By excluding us from these processes you alienate us from the school, which I would suggest is dangerous to the future of the school.

Many students are dissatisfied with this exclusionary administrative norm and some even discuss leaving this institution because of their dissatisfaction.

I remind the administration that one reason why our college rating is so low is because we have a problem retaining students; what you are doing is not helping the situation.

Another issue with excluding us from decisions is that in three years or less all of us will join the ranks of the alumni.

When we graduate we will have the option of giving money to this school or not giving at all. By alienating us now you are not helping your chances of including us later on. An alumni giving starts when a student first steps onto this campus; not when she or he graduates.

–Daniel Cole
College junior


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