posted 2011-02-23 13:00:54

Printing Poses Problems - Students complain about long waits in the Student Resource Center

The Student Resources Center can be a pretty infuriating place. (Photo: Hubert Szumski/The Envoy)
The Student Resources Center can be a pretty infuriating place. (Photo: Hubert Szumski/The Envoy)
Printing Poses Problems

Students complain about long waits in the Student Resource Center

Tracy Neiman

News & Features Editor

With additional reporting by

Jenady Garshofsky, Associate News & Features Editor

It is an early February morning and the Hunter College Student Resource Center (SRC) is already packed with students vying to use the only free printers on campus. A line extends out the door of the computer room into the hall. Presently, there is just one functioning printer. Some students have been waiting for over forty minutes and are complaining bitterly.

Though the above description illustrates just one brief moment in the SRC, it has come to typify the ongoing problems the center has with crowds and malfunctioning technology, particularly the free printers it offers.

According to Jessica Zannikos, the Hunter College student body president, the SRC has its own budget overseen by the Undergraduate Student Government (USG). A portion of the bi-annual Student Activity fee of $84.50 always goes to running the center and includes 300 pages of free printing per semester for full-time Hunter attendees. Hunter students also pay an additional technology fee of one hundred dollars per semester to “improve computer services for the students and faculty,” according to the Hunter College Mandatory Term Fee Table, located on the Bursar’s webpage.

However, many Hunter students gripe that because of prohibitively long lines, they have been unable to take advantage of the printing funded by the student activity fees they already pay.

“I haven’t been [to the SRC] to use the printing since last year because [the lines] are ridiculous,” said Sybil Chan, a senior. “I don’t pay $200 in technology fees to have that fail,” Chan added.

But the lines to print in the SRC prove one thing: there are still countless students who rely on the SRC’s resources. Since The Envoy last reported on the SRC in Oct. 2010, the wait times at the center remain a major point of frustration for many Hunter students who make use of it regularly.

Hunter College junior Ariana Tacakurdeen, who was interviewed while waiting in line for a printer, believes that the current printing crunch is “not fair.”

“There’s always really long lines,” she said. “Hunter needs to do something about it. People need to get to class.”

Hunter sophomore Samuel Jacob, who was waiting in line with Tacakurdeen, added that, “the whole hold-up here is just bad.”

Jacob continued, “If the technology [were] better, this would run a lot more smoothly.

“[The SRC] needs to set up a time to get this all fixed so [its resources] will be available for the students,” he stressed.

Finally, Jacob noted that frequent closures of the computer labs in the SRC increase wait-times for students rushing to class.

Noah Cramer, a Hunter College senior, emphasized that he “heard [while] in the SRC lab that other CUNY campuses [have] a certain number of free printing [stations] at any of their school’s computers.

“It’s unfortunate that at Hunter free printing is limited to one lab,” she said.

Zannikos says that the SRC is getting increasingly difficult to maintain as the Hunter student population multiplies and technology remains outdated due to financial limitations. She noted that much of the SRC budget goes to paying its staff.

There’s “too much traffic and too many people” for the SRC to handle, Zannikos said. “We don’t have the resources to maintain that level of printing and demand.

“A new thing breaks every day,” she acknowledged.

But, she continued, “I don’t think people can pay for printing anymore—nor should they.”

To that end, Zannikos highlighted USG’s continued attempts to sustain the SRC and the resources it provides. As of now, the USG proposed adding two new printers and two new copy machines to the SRC, as well as to the USG office. The anticipated printers cost approximately $3000 each, while copy machines run at $5000. USG will be able to purchase the machines once it receives approval from the College Association (CA), which deals with all budgets related to the use of student activity fees.

“It’s really hard to do purchase requests and get equipment here in time,” Zannikos noted. “Massive printers and copy machines in bulk are always expensive,” she said, adding that, “You replace one of them and that one breaks because everyone is using the one that works.”

Further, she stressed, “the types of printers we can get are limited because [they have] to be on state contract.”

Zannikos also remarked that USG has been involved in talks with the Hunter College administration about remedying the SRC’s printing problems. Thus far, however, the talks have not amounted to any definitive plans.

“We asked [the administration] if we could use another computer lab to subsidize some of our printing,” Zannikos commented. One suggested location was the tenth floor computer lab of the North building.

“They were not really receptive,” Zannikos said. “They suggested putting the [free printing] in the dorms,” a proposal which she felt was not applicable to the Hunter students who do not live or attend class at the Brookdale campus.

But according to Meredith Halpern, the executive director of marketing and communications for Hunter College president Jennifer Raab, there are already many low-cost printing options at Hunter in addition to the SRC.

“Currently, in the public labs we have tech fee-subsidized nickel-a-page printing which has been functioning well,” Halpern affirmed.

“With the push towards campus sustainability and the growth of online solutions, minimal fees for printing have proven to be more economical in the long run and more environmentally sound,” she emphasized.

Sabrina Fong, a Hunter senior, is similarly optimistic about the efficiency of printing on campus. “Whenever I go [to the SRC], there’s no line,” she said. “I noticed the problem last year, but I thought it was gone. “

The best times to go to the SRC, Fong said, are in the late afternoon.

“I don’t go during dean’s hours or if it’s ten minutes before a class starts, because that’s when it’s most crowded. If you go during the middle of a class time, it’s usually empty.”

An email from the SRC Management echoed Fong’s advice. “The mornings and nights are the lightest in terms of student traffic,” it said. “Saturdays are the slowest day of the week and for the moment, are probably the best days to use our labs.”

The email also noted that “file formats with large file sizes or heavy graphics take time to process and print.

“A big problem we face in the SRC is students are flooding our print server with these large files and print jobs which then crashes our print server.”

Finally, the email stressed that “respecting the rules of the facility itself” will keep the SRC running smoothly.

“When we deal with unnecessary problems such as keyboards not working because food or drink was spilled into them, or students peeling off the keys or even stealing the keyboard and mouse, finding food and random objects stuck inside the copiers and printers, and finding damaged furniture or equipment, it is harder for us to focus on more important issues like keeping the print system up and running.”