<< Front page Commentary May 14, 2004

Administration lacks dialogue on Biggs closure

To the Editors:

I am writing to express my horror at CIT’s announcement in the Review this past week. That this decision comes now, right before finals, is even more distressing and suspiciously strategic.

If this is an issue of space, then what about Griswold? Is it unthinkable to deprive the campus of a meeting space (there are others), but completely acceptable to deprive the students’ computer accessibility? And who will this affect? The easy answer would be “low-income students,” but the population is much larger, I assure you.

What of the student that must work at night because said student is involved in a million other things (such as Asian American Alliance, As I Am, Student Senate, OCDC, paid work, In Solidarity, OSCA) and does not want to disturb their roommates?

What if a virus drives a student from his or her computer to campus ones? But let’s return to the first point: low-income students who cannot afford their own computers are directly affected.

Just as they were affected when the College decided that print quota would have to be paid for by the student. What kind of campus wants socio-economic diversity when it is becoming increasingly hostile to this population? To me?

And I must say something too of the “innovative ideas.” The problem is not wireless access. That does absolutely nothing for those students on campus who have no computers. Also, wireless access does nothing for printing. How will we print? And I understand that over 2200 computers have been registered (out of 2800 students), but this number is misleading because students need to use (and do use) campus computers for specific software.

This is my third year at Oberlin and this incident is a symptom of a greater malaise from which Oberlin suffers — one of non-communication between the administration and its students. Since the MRC decision two years ago, to the new computers to replace old ones (and the disappearances of various computer stations), to the print quota system and now to this, students have been cut out of major decisions for too long.

I have heard it said that “not everyone’s opinion can be taken into account, for then there would be chaos.” I wholeheartedly disagree, and if for nothing else, than this one reason: who will be directly affected if Biggs is shut down as a lab?

Students. How can it be that students have not had a say in actions that directly affect them?

I urge you to heed these words — they are not only mine. Please understand that I, as a student, sincerely am eager to work with the administration to discuss these problems.

Dialogue and communication is the culture we are trying to create — this is the message that we tell our incoming students. But when the first students hear of this decision is in an arbitrary letter to the editor which states, point blank — “Biggs is closing” — end of discussion, no input necessary or wanted, then there is a serious problem.

–Nancy Nguyen
College junior


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