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Computer lab access too limited during finals week

Finals are a stressful time for nearly everyone on campus. Professors are busy grading twice as many papers and tests than any other time of the year. Their schedules are crammed with meetings with students and advisees. Administrators are gearing up for the next semester, getting ready for another round of new students and making sure continuing students are signed up for classes. And that’s just the stuff going on behind the scenes. Perhaps more apparent is the increase of students earnestly studying in Suzie’s and at the Tea Shop.

But most noticeable is the number of students hunched in front of computers in jam packed computer labs, some desperately trying to find a place they can stay until the early morning hours to get their work done. Let’s face it, we all pull at least one all-nighter each semester. It only makes sense that computer labs be more accessible to students, especially during the last weeks of school. But the fact is, they aren’t.

Students aren’t getting the access they need to computer labs during these stressful work-intensive times. Signs posted on all of the labs indicate that access into the computer labs is not available between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. If you happen to be in the lab during those hours, you’ll find leaving for any reason results in being locked out. Hopefully someone else happens to be in the lab so they can let you back in because you’re out of luck if it’s 2 a.m. and you’re still writing your paper.

If you do leave, Public Safety will not let you back in. That’s what happened to some members of The Weekly staff and other students last Tuesday. To top off not having a place to work on our final projects, papers and finals, Public Safety officers were unnecessarily rude to us when we called and requested to be let back in to one of the computer labs. This is not the only issue where students think Public Safety isn’t making them the priority, but we felt it was the most pressing to discuss because it is so close to finals.

Instead of rehashing the incident, we would like to offer some suggestions for making the computer lab accessible to students at any hour.

Some computer labs on campus could be designated for 24-hour use. In order to stay in or enter the lab after midnight, you would have to produce your student ID and/or sign in with a security guard.

During finals, Public Safety and administration could make an exception to the midnight to 6 a.m. rule for one or two designated computer labs to help students complete their end-of-semester work. These labs could have a Public Safety officer stationed there for security.

Swipe cards enable Public Safety to keep a record of who is going into the computer labs. Card readers could be installed to require people to swipe in and out after midnight in order to keep more detailed records of who is using the computer labs and when.

Perhaps prior to the end of the semester, students who know they will need access to computers past midnight could get special permission from Public Safety to be able to use a computer lab during that time.

Several of us have attended other colleges that have been able to balance the issues of year-round 24-hour computer lab access and security, and they were working with a much larger student population.

Students picked Mills because we wanted to come to a school that offered us services that would give us a more personalized college experience. For some of us, the end of each semester is the most important and most stressful part of the term. It would mean a lot to us if we felt that everyone was pulling for our success and helped make the end of the semester more tolerable.

All students benefit from access to the computer labs, but those who suffer most when they’re not available are those who cannot afford computer and/or printing equipment to use at home. It’s important to make all the resources on campus available to those who may need them most.
Campus resources must be avalible for those who need them, when they need them.