By Matt Benoit
Contributed to this story
The Student Access Lab, or SAL computer lab located in Cascade Hall, will move to Heiner Center in the summer of 2010. The move is the first step in creating a temporary “Learning Commons,” a place where students can go to for tutoring, library resources, and computers, all in one place.
Linda Lambert, library director, said that the library would work with the learning center to cover the research needs of students, adding that there would still be a “first floor librarian presence” that would be limited unless the library budget expands.
The building is expected to be completed by 2018 at a cost of nearly $40 million, and will provide eLearning support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
So what do students think?
Chandler Batiste, the executive vice president for the student council who is also chair of student advocacy, said she polled around 146 students, a majority of whom were in favor of the move. Batiste did say 95 percent of the survey was taken in the Syre Student Center, leading her to believe that the students spent at least some of their time near Heiner.
The other 5 percent of the survey, taken across campus, showed slim margins but overall was still in favor of the move. Batiste said students who do oppose the move do so at least in part to the convenience of where the lab is currently located, but added that the move is the first step to “slighting decreasing convenience for some in hopes of vastly increasing convenience for all.”
As for her personal stance, Batiste said she has an office as a student government member and, like many students, a laptop, and thus never uses the lab.
One student proposed a compromise. Casey Lockhart, 22, is a Whatcom student who uses the SAL lab two days a week as part of his English 101 class, which splits their time evenly between the classroom and the lab. He says he thinks it would be nicer to have the labs in two different places than just one central location. “It seems more efficient,” he said.
Library director Linda Lambert, though, cast doubt on such a compromise, saying she didn’t know if the resources were available for two separate labs.
Sean Radwanski, 15, a full-time Running Start student who uses the lab almost every day to do homework, check e-mail, and write stories, said the lab move is helpful to students because it not only brings the lab closer to the library, but to other buildings as well.
“It’s more in the middle of everything,” Radwanski said of the future Heiner location.
Arturo Camejo, 19, works in the International Programs office and uses the SAL lab an average of four times a week to write essays and more. “I’m for it,” he said of the move to Heiner. “It’s more in the core of the campus.”
Josh Clark, 28, says he uses the computers in the library often, and thinks it’s a good idea to move the lab because it means he won’t have far to go to find other computers, and thus, he can avoid waiting in lines more often.
Clark recalls that in previous years at Whatcom, wait lines for computers used to be shorter. “This year’s not been like that, at all,” he said.
The opposite view was expressed by Crystal Bohm, 40, who seemed disappointed by the move, saying she enjoyed the access of the Cascade SAL lab due to the amount of time she spent in the science labs on that side of the campus.
“They were handy,” Bohm said of the SAL computers in Cascade.