Friday, October 19th, 2018

Why renovating Luther Bonney’s computer lab isn’t worth the cost

Posted on September 14, 2015 in Our Opinion, Perspectives
By USM Free Press

With a new semester upon us, President Glen Cummings has arranged a variety of changes to take place on campus in order to better serve the student community. When everything is finished, the hope is to have updated and consolidated the center for Student Advising, Student Financial Services and Community Engagement and Professional Development in Luther Bonney.  He addressed these changes by saying that consolidating the space will allow for a “one-stop shopping location” in the center of campus, where services such as the Prior Learning Assessments, Veteran’s Services, Disability Services will be close together for students to access.

One of the biggest changes to take place this semester will happen in Luther Bonny, where USM plans to create an updated computer lab. In early October, the plan is to temporarily move the computer lab and help desk to the third floor of Glickman library. IT staff will be relocated to the fifth floor of the Science building, and construction is anticipated to be finished by January (with February being the latest in which construction may be completed.

The funding of this project is coming primarily from the savings in ending off-campus rents, maintenance, heating and cooling of vacated white houses off campus. But do we really need to spend money on a new computer lab? Personally, we believe that student success isn’t based around the appearance of a computer lab – if anything, our focus should be on student involvement and community outreach. Why do we need to renovate a computer lab that is in perfectly good condition? Other than providing a more attractive space (which may be persuasive in a student’s choice to go to USM) why do we need to renovate this area, especially during the semester when students need it the most?

We understand that involved staff are doing everything they can to assure students are getting computer access and IT help from a different location, but what we don’t understand is why we’re using money saved from expenses once spent on the 7 white residential buildings. If we want to create a University that feels more like a community, the focus should be on using the space from these buildings to ultimately provide an area for student groups and involved faculty to work together.

Our Free Press office is located on 92 Bedford St. in a white building. All students involved in our student group would say that the white building has provided them with a safe space to learn and grow. We’ve made connections here, created lasting friendships and ultimately obtained that “community feel” that many commuter students do not feel when they attend USM.

The money saved that will be spent on the computer lab changes could be spent on something else more important. What if we utilized the “white houses” as space to make students feel welcomed? What if we used that money to pay professors the income they deserve? It’s understandable that the University doesn’t want to waste money maintaining buildings that are not being used, but if we put our heads together and planned ways that they could become a larger part of the student experience, then it wouldn’t be such a problem.

As Chris Quint said in an interview with the Portland Press Herald this past spring, “A lot of those white houses on Chamberlain are secluded over there in silos. We want to bring people back on campus and make people feel like they are part of the campus, not stuck off where no one knows where they are,” he said.

We disagree with his statement. In our opinion, the white house’s broaden campus life. Spending money on renovating a better looking computer lab may seem like a good choice right now, but when we’re looking to spend money on creating a larger, stronger student community, we may be out of luck at that point.

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