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Funding for new SMSU lab vanishes

Inadequate funding halted the remodeling of the bowling alley into a computer lab. The Smith Memorial Student Union has seen many changes and renovations, but the bowling alley will for now remain the hallmark of the Smith Center basement.

The Office of Information Technology and the Office of Facilities developed a proposal and estimate for the renovation of the bowling alley.

The cost of renovation included the removal of the bowling floor, abatement of asbestos and upgrade of the basement ventilation system.

These costs alone would have totaled nearly $200,000 without inclusion of electrical, computer, network and furniture costs. The project was deemed prohibitively expensive and a letter to the SMSU committee was written to withdraw the request.

Mark Gregory, executive director for the OIT, suggested that the plans could possibly be revisited if PSU’s student enrollment continues to increase.

“It is possible, although I am hoping PSU acquires more space than what it is ready to use. One thing Facilities found out in looking at our proposal is that almost any future use of the bowling space will be expensive given the current condition of the space,” Gregory said.

Since an overhaul of the bowling alley was not economically feasible, OIT and PSU decided to focus on adding computers and making facilities improvements to the “two most popular labs, Millar Library and Neuberger Hall 96,” Gregory said.

Students can expect to see 16 new computers in the Millar Library in the winter term. Neuberger Hall labs will take longer to remodel since significant electrical and facilities upgrades are required to fit extra equipment into the space.

“We would like to provide about 30 to 40 more units in this (Neuberger Hall 96) space,” Gregory said.

Upgrades in the existing labs include new desk areas, standing kiosk computers for quick e-mail checks and flat screens for some machines. The flat screens would use less space, less power and create less heat.

The plan to remodel the bowling alley included working space for students, providing privacy and quiet. If the student demand continued to rise, a proposal to build a lab for more privacy may be submitted to the SMSU.

With another year of increased enrollment, demand on the university’s labs has risen with regular waiting lines at the Millar Library and Neuberger Hall Room 96 labs. The two labs in Shattuck Hall are just as popular but less crowded.

Other computers found on campus for student campus are in Cramer Hall 322, Neuberger Hall 4th Floor and the University Studies labs which are available only when classes are not in session.

Gregory explained, “Winter term we (OIT) hope to have a display page up that will indicate current percentage used in each lab so students can find open stations on campus more easily.” In looking at the usage statistics, on a typical weekday afternoon, the percentage of occupied computers are as follows:

* UNST usage: 45 percent

* Cramer Hall 322 usage: 75 percent

* Library usage: 100 percent

* Neuberger Hall 96 usage: 92 percent

* Instructional Computer Lab usage: 48 percent

* Shattuck Hall 107 usage: 82 percent

* Shattuck Hall 112 usage: 90 percent

“The above was an exact count based on who is logged into stations and where – in the above case it was a snapshot from today (11/19/2002) around 2 p.m. Starting this term we check this data every 5 minutes. Eventually the data will become the basis of a web display that will tell students what labs have open stations at any one time. The OIT staff wants to put the display page up permanently in the library and NH 96,” Gregory said.

In addition to the above mentioned labs, there are more than 20 departmental labs on campus, including newly upgraded areas: Chemistry, the Fine Arts Media Center, the Galaxy lab in Science Building II, a new Foreign Languages Lab (NH), a new Geography lab (CH), a new University Studies lab (CH 159), upgrades to the Urban and Public Affairs labs (Urban Center) and new equipment for the Disabilities Resource Center (SMSU).

Funding for all labs and upgrades is provided for by the Student Technology Resource Fees. In the state of Oregon, PSU’s fee is the lowest of the three big universities in Oregon – Oregon State University, University of Oregon and PSU – and is $60 per term for a full time student. OSU students pay $100 and University of Oregon students pay $90.

Technology fees are separate from tuition fees and are the main source of funding for student technology services.