It is a sprint towards the finish line. One runner has a three-page English paper to type up, one needs to print the science homework and another needs to check his e-mail. The prize: a rare chance to sit in front of a computer.
Being an elite math and science school with 3,157 students, one would think that we have the resources needed to satisfy such a large number of people, but the number of computers available to students in the library is disappointingly low. There are only 15 computers for an average of 153 students who enter the library per period, and only a small number of those who want to use a computer will get the chance to use it.
There are few computers readily available because students abuse their privilege by using computers for things other than schoolwork or by taking longer than necessary. Although gaming Web sites are blocked, students bring flash drives from home to play games. Through these flash drives, viruses can make their way into computers, leading to frequent breakdowns. Many students print over five pages, and many documents end up unclaimed and thrown in the trash bin.
More computers can be made available by partitioning them into two stations: one to only print out documents and another to complete longer assignments. A sign-up sheet for those wishing to stay online for a short period of time would be helpful in maintaining organization with the computers. Students would reserve a computer the day before and put down a time limit between 15 to 30 minutes.
The librarians should designate several monitors to watch over those at the computers, to monitor the sign-up sheet, report students using computers for purposes unrelated to school and submit a list of these students to the librarian by the end of the period. Other monitors can watch over printer usage and make sure there are no jams. They should also make sure that students do not print over 15 pages of non-academic work, such as birthday posters.
So the race comes down to this. The winner won’t be the one who gets to the library first. No one is going to win the race if the prize is not worth the sprint. We cannot have students continue to misuse the computers and negatively impact those who need to use them for serious work. We need to start recognizing the roots of the problem and begin fixing them.