Senior Patricia Carmona said watching her Spanish professor in Jimenez Hall get frustrated over losing 10 minutes of class time because of a broken screen is frustrating to watch.
“After five minutes of trying to figure it out and having the technology specialists in the building come up to help, they said that it was a problem with the infrastructure and couldn’t be fixed,” said Carmona, a communication major. “… [My professor] already tries to pack so much into each class so we get the most out of our hour and 15 minutes together — but the technology didn’t allow for her to run her class smoothly.”
After Jimenez underwent HVAC renovations in summer 2015, not all technology in the building was running properly when classes started for fall semester — a problem that has continued into this year, said Fatemeh Keshavarz, director of the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
Fabian Faccio, the undergraduate adviser for the Spanish Department said one of his colleagues wrote an email to all the language departments talking about the technological mishaps.
“She teaches a seminar once a week and in total there are 15 classes during the semester, and in seven of those classes the technology failed by not being able to connect to the Internet, and [the technology] not being ready right at the moment,” Faccio said. He noted that sometimes the technology problems are user related.
In September, a group of about six students started a “no more crumbs” movement in response based on their observance of how Jimenez “always gets pushed down the list of renovation[s],” junior Betzaida Nolasco said.
Jimenez was built in 1962 and had not received renovations apart from a $1 million 1997 renovation to remove mold, according to a 2010 “Restore the Core!” initiative. At the time, the building had $13.5 million in deferred maintenance. Other programs have newer buildings, including business’ Van Munching Hall, which opened in 1993; journalism’s Knight Hall, which opened in 2010; and engineering’s A. James Clark Hall, which has six months left of construction.
“Facilities with ‘better’ majors, such as STEM ones, get the main course while we only get, at most, the pity leftover crumbs,” said Nolasco, a Romance languages major. “We’re tired of it.”
Carmona said she feels it is unfair to have to resort to the “oldest forms of technology” to learn when “other programs on campus have all they need and more when it comes to teaching technology.”
The group’s goal is to “primarily gain attention about this issue as well as mutual support from the students and professors that find themselves dealing with this unnecessary trouble,” Nolasco said. Their ultimate goal is to have Jimenez get more “efficient technology and building renovations,” Nolasco added.
This university has made some efforts to update the building’s technology recently, however. A year and a half ago, this university’s student technology fee committee and the Provost Office provided “a special technology boost” for Jimenez’s classrooms, Keshavarz said.
And in summer 2015, standard-sized classrooms in Jimenez received updated projectors, computers and software for professors to plug in their own laptops, said Mary Scullen, SLLC associate director of academic affairs. The classrooms also received new screens and PCs, she added.
Scullen said she doesn’t believe that Jimenez is being discriminated against because of it being home to languages or humanities.
“I honestly don’t think it’s because of humanity or languages,” she said, noting that the age of the building — 54 years — is likely a factor. “We have had provost representatives in JMZ who visit because of how successful we are doing as a department. We have the largest of concentration classes offered in our building … we get a lot of attention.” Jimenez currently offers 10 majors and has 462 students majoring and 475 students minoring.
Marcio Oliveira, assistant vice president of academic technology and innovation, said all classrooms on this campus get the same attention when technology glitches happen. And as recently as two years ago, 23 percent of the classrooms on the campus didn’t have updated technology at all, he noted.
“We treat all the classrooms equally, and there is no reason for the division of IT to have no classrooms not working,” Oliveira said. “We would never move Jimenez to a different priority level.”
Oliveira said the IT department works diligently to make sure that any issues that occur with technology in the classrooms are solved.
“Classrooms are supported by [colleges and schools] as well as by Department of Information Technology,” he said. “The response time varies.”
To help with the technology glitches, when there is a request to have technology fixed in the classrooms, there are student employees that respond the first time, Oliveira said. If the problem continues, the department gets technicians to come to the room to fix the problems.
Faccio said he has access to immediate IT help in Jimenez.
“Sometimes, many issues cannot be resolved by them,” he said. “It’s like a little band-aid … many things that they need to fix need to go to the college or to the main IT computer science building to implement something. Every time they implement something, it can be very slow.”
While the information and technology department has been providing “constant trouble-shooting assistance,” Keshavarz said any issues dealing with technology can be addressed in a more “major” manner when the semester comes to an end.
As Jimenez is one of the older buildings on the campus, Scullen said it would take a lot of money and time to fully modernize the building in terms of technology.
“I don’t want to say that Jimenez is perfect, we also have other issues, but it would take a lot of money and time to modernize this building,” she said. “I have colleagues and friends in the engineering building that they say are considered to be in the same state as Jimenez. We are a tale of two campuses.”
Moving forward, the IT department, along with the provost office, is working on a classroom technology master plan that would be presented to the Teaching Facilities Committee to implement a better way to support the faculty and the classrooms by providing upgrades to classroom infrastructure and services on the campus, Oliveira said. It will provide a unified experience for the faculty and students while getting tech support in the classrooms, he added.