Grinnell Technology Committee: Easing campus-life for everyone

By Kelly Page
pagekell@grinnell.edu

According to many Grinnellians, technology at our College can be either extremely useful or incorrigibly inconvenient. That’s why the SGA Tech Committee is working on several technology-based projects that aim to make life easier for every Grinnell student, providing a link between ITS and the rest of the Grinnell community

“In general, IT for me is kind of a shadowy figure off in the forum. So, Tech Committee makes it better mesh in the community in terms of tech stuff that goes on in the campus,” said Quinn Ercolani ’20, a member of the committee.

Last year ITS polled students asking what technological challenges they struggle with on campus, and students formed the Tech Committee with the goal of remedying those difficulties.

The first issue that the Tech Committee tackled was printing, with Addison Gould ’19 and Henry Mahar ’19 spearheading ways to make printing easier and more environmentally-conscious on campus.

“Currently, the printers are overloaded because people just print a ton of stuff,” said SGA Tech Advisor Myles Becker ’19. “The issue starts at the beginning of the semester when people just download and print their entire textbooks, which takes a toll on the printer after a while.”

To save overworked printers, the Committee is working on limiting the number of pages a student can print at one time. Gould is also working on adding a single print queue, which already exists for staff and would be simple to add to student computers. That way, students could release a print job to any printer on campus. Additionally, Mahar seeks to find a method of keeping track of how much students print, in order to raise awareness about using less paper.

Aside from printers, the Tech Committee has a whole litany of technological endeavors. They currently work to digitize the room draw system, which will no longer be done on paper by 2019. Another promising project of theirs includes putting room inventories online by next semester. They are also working on making GrinnellShare easier to navigate, as well as easing the process of posting Professor Quotes on Pioneer Web. After Professor Quotes were removed from Pioneer Web and added to the GrinnellShare home page (where one must scroll really far down to see them), quote submissions have dropped significantly. Another important project of the Committee includes adding gender pronouns to the Campus Directory to prevent the misgendering of students.

The Tech Committee is also trying to replace outdated televisions in dorm lounges.

“Since we’re transitioning from allowing lounges for alcohol consumption and partying, we’re looking for ways to facilitate community in lounges that don’t involve substances,” Becker said. “So with really topical TV shows like ‘Westworld’ last semester and ‘Stranger Things’ this semester, it would be really cool to allow students to create social environments around watching shows together.”

This is especially an issue on east campus, where televisions have not been updated since the dorms were built in 2004, making it impossible to plug in a computer and watch shows from the Internet on a bigger screen.

The Committee is also currently attempting to institute a system where students can log onto an app to see which laundry machines are in use, no longer needing to travel to the laundry rooms in person to find out. The system could also send SMS alerts to students when a machine frees up. Finally, Becker said he is also pushing to change computer labs in campus dorms in order to transform them into collaborative study spaces.

With so many projects in the works, the biggest hurdle for the Tech Committee to jump includes securing funding for these various projects. Becker believes it would be valuable to turn these projects into student initiatives, to show administrators how many students would support these measures. He also hopes to receive more input from the student body about changes that could be made to technology on campus.

“Our committee meets every Monday in JRC 203 from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” Becker said. “Any way we can get more student input is good. I think there’s a lot more we can do.”


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