Student fees finance new

by David Hyland

With promises of quick access and even faster computers, College of Liberal Arts officials gathered Tuesday to celebrate the grand opening of a new computer lab.
Liberal arts officials built the lab to relieve overcrowding at other public labs. The lab is located in 130 Anderson Hall, formerly the West Bank Brown Bag Lunch Room.
“In the past there’s really been no lab just for CLA students,” said Mark Ollenburger, the lab’s manager. “We are offering the best tools to prepare students. It’s one of the best on campus.”
With 44 computers available, the new lab offers high-speed Internet connections and the latest writing software.
The Student Computer Fees Committee financed the $240,000 facility. The group will also manage the lab, which received money from the $45 quarterly computer fees paid by liberal arts students.
The use of computer fees to maintain labs is a similar strategy to that employed by the Institute of Technology.
Most computer labs on campus are managed by Academic and Distributed Computer Services. In recent years, however, numerous colleges have ventured out to run their own. This year, Carlson School of Management opened labs in its new building just for business students. The Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs has had its own labs for at least five years.
Organizers see the new facility as a first step in defusing overcrowding at other labs.
“I think everyone agrees that there should be more computers for students,” said Mark Foreman, associate administrator with the CLA Office of Information Technology. “The lines that people are finding at different ADCS labs are unacceptable.”
But for marketing major Damien Genoud, it is not slow lines but slow computers and long downloading times that are a problem. While working on a World Wide Web page in another lab, he had to wait a long time to download various pictures.
Genoud, a student from Switzerland studying at the University for a year, said the overall size and quality of the University’s computer services is impressive compared to his school at home. He went to see the lab after reading about it in an announcement.
Along with offering liberal arts students “state of the art” computing, Ollenburger said the lab might handle CLA’s distance learning initiatives. Its high-powered computers and Internet connections will allow students to use audio or video coursework or attend a class being taught at another institution over the Internet.
If the new lab is successful, organizers said the fees committee might fund additional labs. The committee is searching for potential locations for expansion. One possibility is Coffman Union.
Lab organizers also hope to increase cooperation between CLA’s computer services and those of other colleges and Academic and Distributed Computing Services.
“Hopefully it will change, everyone will have good access wherever they are on campus,” Ollenburger said.
This summer the new lab will open its doors to all University students taking liberal arts classes even if they are not CLA majors. Ollenburger said the success of such a program could lead to further cooperation.
Currently, the computer service is collaborating with all computer labs on campus in creating a program allowing students to find uncrowded labs.
Although initial turnout in the lab, which opened May 14, has been low, Ollenburger said almost 100 students used the lab daily by the end of May.