Labs should be accessible

Chris Kemp

I walk into a computer lab on the second floor of Hibbard, pick a spot, log into the system and start typing some homework. I then hear the all-too-familiar, “There’s going to be a class in here!” In utter frustration, I save what I’m working on, pack up, and try to find an open computer somewhere.

If I’m not mistaken, there are only two general access labs (I’m omitting the Macintosh lab since half the time it’s not compatible with your files) in Hibbard, and there always seems to be a class in them.

And, there’s nothing wrong with that, until you get kicked out.

I could completely understand if the class was taking a test or if there simply weren’t enough computers to share with students outside the class; but generally speaking, there’s a large percentage of computers still open.

Even if the professor just didn’t want the sound of the printer or muffled conversations from outside students, they could at least put a note up on the board asking students to please be quiet if they want to use the lab while they’re in the room. I’m pretty sure my tuition helped pay for those new computers, if I’m wrong, I apologize.

Nevertheless, students should be able to use the computer labs whenever they want.

I must applaud a professor of mine who teaches a class in Hibbard 201 this semester. We only use half of the lab, and the professor lets students outside of the class use the other half of the lab. He only closes it exclusively for our class if we have a test to take that day.

Several students, who are probably just as irritated as I am about this situation, appreciate his consideration.

Many students don’t have access to a computer at home, and they count on the lab being available for them to get their schoolwork done. There are a limited amount of computers available on campus, so shutting out students when the lab still has computers open is unfair.

On the subject of general access labs, I believe that there is a lab in Schneider that you can only use if you’re a business student. From what I know, the lab was donated by a company to the business department.

Now, if I’m not mistaken, that is privatizing. UW-Eau Claire is a public institution and should not discourage students from using that computer lab because a private corporation paid for it. The same goes for the labs that are for computer science majors only in Phillips Hall.

Computing and Networking Services even has trouble getting into the labs to do simple tasks such as changing the toner or fixing a computer because the labs are being used for class. The schedule is usually posted outside the classroom, but professors can call in the night before and reserve the lab. The schedule that’s posted will then be wrong. So, even if students try to go by the schedules, they can be wrong. This causes even more irritation and aggravation.

The only good news I can offer is there are other computer labs around campus that aren’t always being used. Brewer 54 generally has open seats, so does Brewer 50, but it’s a Macintosh Lab. The Nursing building never has a class in its lab. Across the bridge in HSS 225 and HFA 275 are open computer labs; HSS never has class in its lab either. Or if you’re really desperate, you can hike up the hill to use the lab in McPhee.

Maybe if corporations would provide funding for general access labs, rather than catering to business majors, we wouldn’t have such a problem with crowding in computer labs.


Reno is a senior mass communications major with an emphasis in public relations and a columnist for The Spectator.