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Dean Poole,

The computer lab has been a testing ground for new ideas, a space for collaborative learning among students, a reliable space for completing studio assignments, and an essential means of working during times when laptops break or need lengthy repairs. Not a day went by that the lab wasn’t filled with students from various studios learning from one another.

Since the removal of the computer lab, a few laptops and “virtual machines” – which must be frequently checked in, and can only be checked out during unposted and often varied hours – have been made available to students experiencing technical issues with their own devices. Students regularly experience issues with monitors, hard drives, motherboards, and USB ports. These issues render the laptops worthless until they are fixed, which often takes an extended length of time. However, the limited laptops and virtual machines available are often checked out and thus unavailable to those that need them most.

The machines in the computer lab were more powerful and could quickly compute at speeds unavailable via laptop, calculating and interpolating copious amounts of data – amounts which laptops cannot handle. They did not require students to check them out and were available 24/7, allowing for a more flexible workflow in an area that was easily and efficiently monitored by cameras, faculty, staff, and fellow students. Additionally, the interaction between students of varied educational levels, backgrounds, and experiences provided a strong collaborative environment to supplement the studio experience, as well as to create a peer-based and peer-run learning environment.

First-year students, having purchased expensive laptops with four-year warranties, could be left in their fifth year without a computer, if something should happen to their systems. If their systems remain operational, the laptop itself has difficulty coping with technological advancements, especially those of programs and software, which will likely require students to purchase yet another expensive computer by the time they graduate. With no open, collaborative environment to employ in times of need, students could easily fall behind in studio courses and electives alike.

The recently distributed Annual Progress Report portrays the removal of the computer lab as an advancement for the college in terms of technology, but it has resulted in both a social and an academic loss for the students who benefited from its presence, and thus a loss for the entire Art + Architecture Building.

We are calling upon you to reinstate the computer lab for the betterment of the college, security of student work, and advancement of the technology and learning within the College of Architecture and Design.


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