Opinion: Albion’s Technology Rut, We Can Fix It

Sometimes we don’t really think about the resources around us. We bitch and moan about all the things we wish would change, but really when do we make our resources work for us?

I had to stop myself for a moment when for the umpteenth time the my computer balked at connecting to the  internet and I was ready to launch a litany on the failures of Information Technology for my roommates  . As much as it may feel like the folks in IT can’t possibly being doing their jobs properly if a student could run into almost daily technology conundrums, it really isn’t IT’s fault.

“Information Technology is committed to exceeding the needs of the campus community for a robust, secure, easy-to-use and innovative technology environment.  We strive to maintain a high level of service by ensuring data integrity, aiding users in effective and efficient use of technology, and resolving user issues in a timely fashion,” states the IT mission statement.

I want to point out the words “exceeding the needs of the campus community.” This phrase leaves me wondering how is it that IT comes to know what our needs—the campus community’s needs—are so that they may exceed them?

Before embarking on my lucrative Pleiad career, I spent one year on Student Senate. During my year on Student Senate, the Senate accomplished some big goals: we helped the college pass accreditation organizations and we helped to improve the food at Baldwin.

But what’s Senate’s next big project?

I propose that Senate’s next big project should be to take on technology, and it’s our responsibility as students to make that need heard. The Student Senate is meant to be the voice of students. Its intention is to be a body of our peers meant to represent our interests. IT’s mission statement seems to fall defunct if the campus community is not able to communicate what our technology needs are.

Yet, it seems that Albion College has a history of putting technology on the back-burner. Let’s recall the computer science major: it was put to rest along with the dance department at the end of the 2009-2010 school year. Katelyn Stringham, Monroe senior, is one of five remaining comp sci majors.

“I have been angry about CS being dropped for a while now, considering Computer Science is one of the fastest growing fields of today,” Stringham said. I am inclined to agree.

“I feel like Albion College is possibly shunning students away from being ‘tech savy,’” Stringham said. “When a student’s computer or piece of technology is broken Albion College doesn’t show the student how to fix it for next time, they take it into their back room, fiddle with it for 3-4 days and then magically fix it. I don’t think Albion is a very ‘technology forward’ place at all.”

This seems to be a common sentiment among students that IT operates as this seemingly inept, slow moving group. But again, it may not be IT’s fault, its simply a matter of resources not diverted to the most necessary of places.

Larry Van Overbeke, a Grosse Pointe sophomore and student employee of IT, defended the folks in Fergueson’s basement, explaining that IT does the best with the resources it has. But the only way to make download speeds and the internet faster, would be to have the money to buy it.

And with regard to fixing computers, Van Overbeke said, “The people that work on them (students’ computers) work limited hours. But often it takes a long time to diagnose the problem. We do usually know what we are doing though.”

I believe that. I also believe that its high time we put our heads together as a student body, use our resources and voice in an effective manner  to state what it is we expect from a twenty-first century college.

How about it, Senators? Ready for the next challenge?

Photo Courtesy of WikiCommons

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