Apple computers have quickly become the “it” product of the last few years, and college students are one of its major demographics. St. John’s has wisely recognized this fact and stocked its computer labs with Macintosh hardware. Many arts classes meet at these labs and depend on the machines each day.
However, these state-of-the-art Macs have been working inconsistently all semester. And even worse, students who are studying Graphic Design and Communication Arts, which require a lot of work on Macintosh computers, have often been left waiting for a solution to these problems for days, if not weeks, when the computers are not working properly. These problems include not being able to log in to the Macintosh computers and the application programs not working correctly.
Problems always pop up at the beginning of each semester and every so often during the course of the year, but these problems should not be so persistent this semester, especially considering recent upgrades.
This summer, St. John’s improved its labs by installing hardware and software upgrades. With such new technology now equipped, the problem is clearly on the shoulders of Information Technology.
According to Joseph Tufano, Chief Information Officer, there are around 1,000 computers on the Queens campus and about 120 of them are Macintosh machines. Despite being far outnumbered by Windows-based PCs, the Macs are needed by many students and deserve more IT attention than they are getting.
Art professors and students are aware of the hardware and software upgrades that were installed over the summer.
Although they are great additions to what the classrooms and the labs have already, the fact remains that what is needed most is technical support for the computers.
Tufano believes there are “at least half a dozen” Mac specialists on the IT staff on the Queens campus. But how many of these specialists are Apple-certified?
As odd as it sounds, many professors and even students have wound up helping IT staff to try and fix the Macs.
Professor Richard Thomas of the College of Professional Studies, who teaches Communication Arts production classes, has guided IT staff when they tried to fix the problems.
According to professors who are affected by these Mac issues, there is only one Apple-certified trained specialist working at St. John’s University. This lone savior, however, is stationed at the Staten Island campus.
If these issues are not fixed correctly, and more quickly, it could prove detrimental to students and teachers alike. Art Professor Aaris Sherin teaches classes that require creative work to be completed on Macintosh computers. According to her, the experiences she has had with classroom and lab support for the computers was much worse this semester than in any previous one.
“One day, a computer will run smoothly, and the next day, the programs won’t work,” she said. “I understand that computers have problems, but the reality, in my and other teachers’ classrooms, is that we lose a lot of class time.”
According to Sherin, the issues rendered students unable to complete work for the first four weeks of school, which was planned out in the course syllabus. Other professors, such as Professor Thomas and Professor DeLuna, and their students suffered the same fate.
The number of students who are affected by these technical computer issues is not a large one, but their cries should not fall on deaf ears.
How can one expect a student to stay at St. John’s and pay, on average, $26,200 tuition per year, while he is sitting in class wasting precious hours away because the computers don’t work?
If the University wants the Fine Arts and Communication Arts majors to grow, the students must be given the basic means to do their work, which are, at the least, classrooms and properly-working lab computers.
Maybe St. John’s can start by hiring Apple-certified Macintosh specialists to work on the Queens campus. And then, just maybe, students can stop playing musical chairs in the labs. In today’s scenario, the game is hardly as charming as it once was.