As I happened across the article “Outdated computers bewilder students” in the Oct. 13 issue of The GW Hatchet (p. 1), my interest was piqued. I wondered what computer could be so outdated that it managed to bewilder anyone? It’s not like we have a functional clone of ENIAC still running punch card programs on this campus.
While the computers in the residence hall labs are not as up-to-date as they could be, it is also not practical for the University to provide a 1:1 student-computer ratio with every computer being the latest top-of-the-line model.
The residence hall labs are thoroughly adequate for what any student needs – accessing e-mail and word processing. That every computer does not run Windows95 or ’98 is not a fault. While some students would like these things, they are not a necessity. Looking at things from the other side – Windows 3.1 is more secure, easier to fix if it has a problem and easier to keep people from installing additional software that makes the computer run slower. (How many times have you sat down at a computer in a CIRC lab and found the lovely little ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger icon in the lower right corner?)
Also, the computers in the residence halls may have Intel 486-series processors, but they most certainly do not run at 486-megahertz as stated in the article. The fastest processor that Intel currently ships is the 450-megahertz Pentium II.
The real crime is that this year’s freshmen are having the “wonder” of Webmail crammed down their throats without ever being shown the option of accessing their e-mail through the elegant, powerful and significantly faster interface of PINE.
In fact, it is possible to browse the Web from GWIS2 using Lynx, and the best part is, you don’t have to wait for the graphics to load. It is even possible (in theory) to type a document on GWIS2 using a program called Pico. Imagine – you never need to subject yourself to the tyranny of Bill Gates and Microsoft again. But I digress.
The point here is that the computers provided in the residence halls are more than adequate for what students need, and I’d be willing to bet that they break a lot less often than the CIRC lab computers. This translates to lower upkeep costs, which in theory means lower tuition for everyone (and that’s a good thing). Updating when it is necessary is justified. Updating for the sake of updating is a waste of money.
Stifling free speech
On Oct. 13, the Turkish Students’ Association hosted a panel discussion on the “Turkish American Partnership.”
As the event was advertised, students would be allowed to ask questions. This was not the case, however. Instead of allowing students to directly ask questions, the panel and the TSA insisted questions be written down and handed to the moderator. This, in itself, established an environment conducive to censorship, denying certain students their right to ask questions of the panel.
Several Armenian and Greek students wrote and submitted legitimate questions regarding Turkey’s continued denial of the 1915 Armenian genocide, its illegal humanitarian blockade of Armenia, its new law forbidding Muslim women to wear head scarves in Turkish universities and its occupation of northern Cyprus.
If the panelists were interested in “sharing” Turkish culture and history with the West, then why were they so afraid to confront their bloody past and controversial present by purposely ignoring justifiable questions? Putting on a panel discussion that served only as a mouthpiece for Turkish state propaganda had no place at GW and discouraged free thought and discussion – two key elements in an atmosphere of higher learning.
If Turkey is trying to peddle a more democratic image in the United States, then it seriously should reconsider exporting its state-sponsored censorship, historical revisionism and oppression of free thought at U.S. college events.
-Aram Bedros Zamgochian