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Student Technology Center in Jody Richards Hall no longer open 24/7, set to close in March

Jody+Richards+Hall.
Jody Richards Hall.

The Student Technology Center in Jody Richards Hall, a computer lab that previously acted as the only 24/7 access lab on campus, will close on Friday, March 15 due to planned renovations in the space.

The center contains 69 computers, many of which include programs such as the Adobe Creative Cloud, along with printing and scanning access students could previously utilize any day at any time. 

Since the spring semester began, the computer lab has only operated Monday-Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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The hour change will be in effect until the lab closes indefinitely at spring break to begin renovations in the space.

While specifics of the lab renovation plans have not yet been officially announced, Information Technology Services stated they are “actively developing a plan for a more inviting and updated space that supports better collaboration and study opportunities.”

Lori Douglas, senior director of Technical Support Services, said along with the renovation plans, understaffing issues and a decrease in patron overnight lab utilization also played a role in changing the lab’s hours.

“It is important that we continuously assess the spaces and services that we provide across campus to ensure that they align with the changing needs of our students,” Douglas said.

Some students employed in the lab reported that due to the hour changes, they have been scheduled significantly fewer hours to work this semester.  

These students requested to stay anonymous to ensure their employment was not prematurely terminated before the lab closes in March.

According to Douglas, student workers were told about “potential schedule changes” when initially hired due to the importance of providing “firm dates to them to aid in planning but also to maintain the lab schedule.” 

She said student workers were notified of the confirmed hour changes in early January “to provide ample time to find other employment.”

ITS additionally changed the JRH building operating hours at the start of the semester. 

The building is now open from Monday-Friday 6:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 9:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. After spring break, the building will be closed on the weekends.

Efforts are being made for certain students to receive card access to the building after hours through their WKU ID, according to Teresa Jameson, School of Media and Communications budget specialist. These students include those enrolled in a course that requires access to a SMC lab and pay a lab fee.

“To ensure SMC students, we’re going to take care of you,” Jameson said.

Apart from signs on the lab doors referencing the hour changes, and updates to the ITS website, there has been no known additional communication about the JRH hour changes, leading many students to unknowingly arrive at the building after it closes.

SMC Director Ron DeMarse said he did not learn about the lab and building hour changes until the end of January.

“I think it’s safe to say this change has caught us all a little off-guard,” DeMarse said.

Along with the decision to renovate the JRH lab and change the building and lab hours at the start of the spring semester, ITS also decided to no longer perform hardware maintenance on students’ personal computers.

“This direction was taken due to the overall low student population served combined with complexities of obtaining parts and liabilities of working on consumer hardware,” Douglas said.

According to Douglas, ITS will continue to provide hardware diagnostics but will be unable to perform the needed repairs. They additionally will assist students with “software, system or account troubleshooting and support.”

Adjustments to the ITS Service Desk hours will also occur this semester.

Douglas said that due to this change, there will be a “slight reduction” in employees.

The current ITS Service Desk hours are Monday-Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

On Friday, March 1, the hours will become Monday-Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Douglas said this decision was made because the hours being reduced had “low levels of engagement and contact rates.”

Assistant News Editor Ali Costellow can be reached at [email protected] 

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