Fighting for Tech Stability on Campus

SRU’s technology problems have begun to affect students so much that they have started a petition seeking to make changes to the faulty technology system.

Discussions are circulating about technical issues with PCs and software delays in campus computer labs.

Kayla Martz, a fifth-year strategic communications and media senior, was inspired by technological conflict in her social media analysis class. People talk about their frustration with the lack of help and resources for students and professors with technical issues.

SRU has a Information and Administrative Technology Services (IATS) The department that provides computing and communications infrastructure, services, and support for campus technology.

For Martz and her classmates, IATS didn’t help with these problems. The course requires software to be downloaded to a Mac in the computer lab for use in class assignments, and the semester begins without it.

The professor contacted IATS many times to get this software. No solution provided.

Martz said students have been cornered and now need to install the software on their own PCs. The conversation turned to the frustration of using personal storage and RAM to make software that should be available on school computers.

They launched a petition to start an open dialogue about technology on campus. Traveling through the Quad and the Smith Student Center at various public times, the petition gathered more than 150 signatures.

Every student has a personal experience related to technology issues on campus.

Many students said they had to use their own personal cell phone data plans and hotspots to complete assignments, take quizzes and/or join Zoom calls.

However, these issues are beyond the scope of the students. Professors share very similar frustrations.

Jason Stuart, an assistant professor of English at SRU, said the desktop in his office was causing him so many problems that it prompted him to buy his own MacBook.

“It’s ancient [and] It’s barely functional,” he said. “I usually come back on any long weekend and find it has that blinking folder icon, and it won’t boot or reboot on its own. [I]Will restart it and wait, then it updates all office programs, takes five minutes to verify each one before they start, then autostarts a bunch of stuff, too long to wait. “

Stewart received a $10,000 grant to purchase technology for the English Department. With that money, he was able to afford two iMac Pros for production use, estimated to last at least 10 years before possible performance issues.

“It took two years to get [the iMacs]” He says. “[T]Two years of future proofing went down the drain.Then, they posted them on random student desks [the classroom] And hang a knee-high ethernet cord from a wall outlet. “

He filed a work order to address the imminent safety hazard, which took two months to resolve. They ended up using cheap duct tape to tape the wires to the floor, Stewart said.

The computers in the Spotts World Culture Building are not equipped with Adobe software, although the building houses various publications and the courses taught require applications.

IATS advised Stewart to use the computer lab in the Eisenberg Building, where the business school is located.

After discovering a problem with one of the Macs, Martz discovered that the IATS department had no Mac specialists. In her petition, she received responses indicating that IATS employees lacked education on Mac computers.

In-state undergraduates taking 12 to 21 credits pay a Technology Fee of $239 in tuition. Out-of-state undergraduate students earning the same credits pay a technology fee of $364.

The university says the SRU technology fee enables the university to invest in instructional technology by upgrading computer labs and classrooms and providing other technological improvements, but Martz said she doesn’t see those improvements happening.

“We are considering sharing technology costs [with students] Because I know a lot of students don’t look at what they’re paying in tuition, or the amount of those fees,” Maltz said.

Martz started the petition to approach the Slippery Rock Student Government Association (SRSGA) to address these concerns. Her ideal solution would be a refund of the technology fee for this semester or a waiver of the technology fee for the next semester.

Through her conversation while collecting signatures, she said students wanted a solution to their Wi-Fi problems, and a strong, fast and reliable connection.

Stewart, who previously served on the technical advisory board, said there was an extreme lack of communication within the IATS department.

“Nobody called [the meeting] order,” he said. “Without consulting supervision, [and] There is no communication. Everyone is crazy. “

Martz hopes her petition will increase the volume of the conversation and start a solution.

“Unless we speak up, say something, have a voice and educate people about what’s going on, nothing will be done,” she said.

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