University re-evaluating computer labs



Due to declining student use, the university is considering renovating computer labs across campus.

AMELIA DUAX, Staff Writer

Maucker Union is a central meeting place for students that offers a variety of dining and studying options. One of these amenities is a computer lab that offers many desktop computers for students to use. Recently,  however, there have been concerns about how often the computer labs in various locations across campus are actually being used.

Northern Iowa Student Government (NISG) Public Relations Director David Konfrst explained that since there has been a recorded lack of use of computer labs in major locations on campus, some ideas have been proposed about renovating the labs and incorporating other aspects that might be additionally useful to students.

“It is a pretty well-known fact on campus for some of the University officials that the computer labs are not getting as much use out of them as they were hoping for,” Konfrst said. “A lot of this has to do with students either bringing their own laptops or simply going over to the Rod Library.”

Konfrst said that when he worked as a student employee in the Union, there was a record of how many students were using the computer lab. He said the data recorded on these logs across campus helped to spur the idea for potential change. From Konfrst’s experience working in the Union, he stated that a maximum of around five students had been using the lab at a given time, and those results were from finals week.

“The biggest issue on campus is that we have all these computers and they’re not being used,” Konfrst said. “Some things that were brought up in discussion with the Senate were to possibly have more printing stations. Usually in the Union when students are using the computer labs, it’s mostly just for printing.”

Konfrst also mentioned that in addition to more printing stations, NISG has been collaborating with Panther eSports about the possibility of using unused lab space for a complete gaming station. According to Konfrst, that option would hopefully be more attractive to students and has been in the works for a long time. Nothing has been officially decided, but the university is still brainstorming ideas for a better way to manage the computer labs.

“This is going to be a continuous process; there’s not going to be a decision overnight. We are going to reach out in the near future with our Town Hall to get feedback on this kind of stuff,” Konfrst said. “Stuff like this is incredibly important because it is important that students get to use these resources and get to have the best possible experience at the university. So, making sure that their input is included on these kind of decisions is extremely important. While the feedback we have was just initially from NISG, we are going to reach out more and get more feedback from students on what they would want.”

Sophomore business manjor Shelby Loomis felt that bringing in more printers and a possible gaming station would be a good idea.

“I have my own laptop, so I don’t really use the computer labs on campus except to print,” Loomis said. “I think that the university is making a good decision by adding more printers to the Union. As for a gaming station, I don’t really play video games, but it sounds like a pretty fun idea.”

Senior political science major Sam Hites said he spends around four to five hours in the computer lab each week.

He said that he likes the computer labs as they currently are and isn’t fond of the idea of using the excess space for a gaming station.

“Some days I feel more focused on the desktop,” Hites said. “If [a gaming station] was in proximity to any computers it would be distracting. I think part of the going to a computer lab is knowing that you’re in a space where everybody else is also in the computer lab just working.”

Students can expect more ideas to be presented as the university works with NISG to evaluate the best way to make use of the Union computer labs. Student voices will be taken into consideration as the brainstorming process continues in the months to come.