Outdated computers bewilder students

A poster recently hung in Lafayette Hall read, “We need new computers because my washing machine has a faster processor than the computers downstairs.”

The poster echoes the feelings of many students, who have grown frustrated with slow and outdated computers in campus residence halls, said Lafayette Hall President Daniel Laren.

“(The Madison Hall computer lab) is not really state-of-the-art in any way,” freshman Radha Rajan said. “Everything seems to be out-of-date. Most people have computers in their rooms but those that don’t have trouble.”

ResNet installed 44 computers in residence hall labs to serve 2,685 students in 11 of the 12 on-campus residence halls.

Thurston Hall received a network printer and 19 upgraded Pentium computers running Windows 3.1 and Windows95 this summer. The 11 other residence halls on campus have 486-megahertz computers that were updated during the summer of 1997, ResNet coordinator Alexa Kim said.

“Most use (the Crawford Hall computer lab) for e-mail and some unfortunate people attempt to write papers,” Crawford Hall resident Andrew Holland said. “They end up going to Gelman (Library). It’s a big inconvenience because (the Gelman Library computer lab) is usually full and noisy. It’s frustrating because we were told we would have full computer facilities in the dorm and we don’t.”

More than 1,500 on-campus students are not using the Ethernet connection ResNet provides because they do not have personal computers and rely on on-campus facilities for the use of a computer, according to ResNet statistics.

The most dramatic imbalance between students who need to use campus computers and the number of available ResNet computers are in Thurston (443 students to 19 computers), Kennedy Onassis (267-3), Guthridge (165-3) and Fulbright (119-3) and New (112-3) halls, according to ResNet statistics.

“About half the people here have their own computers, which leaves about twenty computers for nearly 500 kids,” Thurston Hall resident Stacey Markman said. “I think it’s ridiculous. If we’re paying all this money to go here, then (the University) should accommodate us better.”

“I think this unfortunately ignores the fact that every student is provided with a personal Ethernet connection in their residence hall room in wired dorms,” Kim said. “In addition, 486s running Windows 3.1 is anything but outdated, and ResNet provides the adequate suite of software.”

Mitchell and Madison halls, and Riverside Towers are the only residence halls without Ethernet connections.

“The computers are really slow,” junior New Hall resident Jennifer Lerner said. “Trying to look up something on the (Internet) is impossible. It’s great that (ResNet) wired all the halls, but we need the equipment to go with it.”

“Mitchell is definitely one of the smallest and oldest labs I’ve seen,” sophomore Tyler Wean said. “I know (ResNet) is putting in cable and Ethernet, but we’re hoping they’ll renovate the computer lounge.”

ResNet uses first-year statistics, the number of residents in each hall, student feedback and the physical layout of the computer labs to decide which residence hall labs to upgrade, Kim said.

“We plan to continue our rounds of upgrades and build upon what has already been accomplished over summer 1999,” Kim said.

Kim said students should remember residence hall labs are provided “as a convenience to residence hall students in addition to the personal Ethernet connection that students are provided within their residence hall rooms, and as a complement to the academic computing facilities spread across campus.”

The ratios for the academic computing facilities are no more comforting to students than those of residence hall labs, freshman Jason Buchsbaum said.

“Counting only the 161 24-hour laboratory computers gives us a ratio of roughly 120 students per computer,” said Brad Reese, Computer Information and Resource Center director. “Of course, in these calculations I’m counting all students including those who never set foot on this campus.”

Academic Center and Gelman Library computer labs all have been updated more recently than those in residence hall labs, excluding Thurston Hall, Reese said.

“We need much better equipment (in the residence halls) so everyone doesn’t have to run to the Academic Center,” Fulbright Hall resident Chrissy Drabek said.

Reese said students with complaints and suggestions about residence hall labs should contact ResNet, while computer problems in academic buildings should be reported to CIRC.

“We always welcome productive feedback from students, faculty, and administration,” Kim said.

But some students decided to solve the problems in the residence hall labs by taking matters into their own hands.

“Because the computers are so slow in the (Lafayette Hall) lab, and the other labs are so far away, I decided to buy my own computer,” freshman David Sasko said.

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