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Sociology Club Petitions for 24-Hour Computer Lab

Tricia Tuntland | Staff Writer | 03-21-2013

Late night work schedules, personal computer problems and athletics are just a few reasons the Bemidji State University Sociology Club has started a petition to turn the Student Technology Center into a 24-hour computer lab.

Junior and president of the sociology club, Megan Wark said the petition was started when the club began discussing the benefits of extended computer lab hours for students, especially athletes, to achieve academic excellence.

“I think it would benefit a lot more students,” Wark said. “We think it would really help them academically. I just don’t think the library being open til 11 p.m. is enough time.”

According to the BSU Webpage, there are 47 computer labs located across campus. However, not all labs are open to all students, have the same software or programming, nor are they all located in the academic buildings.

This fall, a second, smaller computer lab was placed in the basement of the library. Due to this change, the Student Technology Center, or Smartlab, hours have been cut and students wishing to use computers with specific softwares are being asked to do so in the library.

Junior and design technology major, Brittani Klemish feels having 24-hour access to expensive special programming would help many students and even faculty.

“This past weekend one of my teachers wanted to have a due-date on Sunday,” Klemish said. “When it came to her attention that there are no labs open with design programs on the weekend, she was forced to move the due date to Monday. It not only affects our schedule, but when it comes to due dates, it affects teachers as well.”

With computers around campus not offering programs, students are forced to learn some programs on their own time.

Junior and business administration major, Krystal Constenius said with the end of the semester coming up she will need to start using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), to do figure analysis.

“We don’t have a computer lab for our class,” Constenius said. “We have to watch our teacher and then figure it out on our own time, which means I will need to be spending a lot of time in a computer lab during the end of semester.”

“With my busy schedule, it is going to be hard to find a lab that will be open and have the SPSS software during my available hours,” Constenius said.

Naree Greenland, a junior and business administration and psychology major, feels there are plenty of computer resources on campus and that a 24-hour lab would be excessive.

“I think BSU is doing pretty good, there are several labs you can choose from,” Greenland said. “Being a business major, I personally would prefer if Decker was open a little bit later, but a 24-hour lab, I think, would be wasting our resources.”

Robert Griggs, vice president of extended learning and innovation, said they have begun to look at how some other schools operate their 24-hour labs.

“What I have heard is that these labs are generally not staffed overnight,” Griggs said. “One of the primary concerns for any type of student service like this is security, so location as to which lab might be converted to 24-hour access is something we would need to look at carefully.”

Griggs also said the cost to run a 24-hour lab would have several operation costs and that the previous chief information officer (CIO) had looked into the possibility of such a lab.

“Expanding student worker hours would add to operational costs, but there are other considerations related to security that would possibly add to the expense of operating such a lab, such as providing key card access doors and locking down computers,” Griggs said.

“Another concern is overall usage of the computer labs in the evening by students,” Griggs said. “I was informed that the previous CIO looked at various lab usage numbers and that as a result of extremely low usage in the late evening, the computer lab hours were reduced.”

Although Griggs does not have a specific cost of converting one of the already implemented computer labs to a 24-hour lab, he said the department will be working with the student senate to explore their options.

The sociology club, philosophy club, and even student senate have all taken an interest in petitioning.

“We are kind of forming an alliance with them,”  Wark said. “We figured it would help us out to get more people to back us up.”

“The vice-president (of student senate) contacted me and said they would like a copy of the petition to sign,” Wark said. “I know they were working on a bill regarding the petition.

Mass communication junior, Megan Jewett, who lives off campus, feels the computer labs have limited hours of availability and, although BSU is a smaller university, it should not limit its students access to resources.

“Being able to use campus resources is extremely important,” Jewett said. “I understand we are a smaller college, but we should still have the option (for a 24-hour lab).”

“How can you expect or demand academic success or excellence when you don’t provide the ability for students to complete that requirement?” Jewett asked.

For more information pertaining to the petition, contact the sociology cub through Collegiate Link at https://bemidjistate.collegiatelink.net/organization/sociologyclub or student senate at http://www.bemidjistate.edu/students/senate/.