A glitch in the system

Many St. John’s students wait in line in Sullivan Hall to have their laptops repaired at the University’s IBM laptop shop, but does the shop do a successful job at repairing laptops in a timely manner?

First, all students must wait in the same line, regardless of what type of repair they need. Even if a student is purchasing a new battery charger or picking up a repaired laptop, he or she must still wait in the same line as students needing repairs. In addition to this, the majority of service is provided by a limited amount of student workers. This causes long lines that often extend outside of the computer lab doors and can leave students waiting for more than an hour.

When a student does give his or her laptop to one of the student workers, the procedure is usually the same. If a laptop has a virus, a worker will replace the hard drive with a new one, which sometimes leads to students lose many of their files if they have not backed them up. With more complicated issues such as a broken screen or a computer that won’t start, the worker will print up paperwork, have the student fill it out and then ship the laptop off to IBM, leaving students without laptops for an indefinite amount of time.

However, IT is addressing these issues and hoping to improve the quality of service at the University’s laptop shop. Kenneth Mahlmeister, executive director of IT, and Maura Woods, associate vice president of IT, said that at the beginning of the semester they discussed necessary changes that needed to be made. These changes included expanding hours of operation and remaining open on certain holidays and weekends. They also discussed in-house repairs with a 48 hour turn-around time, two additional work stations to provide additional staffing during busier times, staffing the front desk with full-time technicians and assigning a permanent work station to identify laptop name plates.

Mahlmeister, Woods and James Salnave, associate dean for Student Development, said they understand why students get frustrated by having to constantly return to the laptop shop and wait in the long line. They also said they are doing their best to improve the situation. For example, for the first 10 days of the semester, they had several laptop assistance tables set up around campus to help alleviate the number of students lining up at the shop. However, due to poor advertisement which all three noted, the majority of students went straight to the laptop shop, and the lines, like last semester, were straight out the door.

The administration is certainly taking positive strides in the right direction, but they still have a long way to go in improving the service of the shop.

Though the lines have been somewhat reduced since last semester, concerns are still relevant in the students’ experience. Once the shop’s operation issues are improved, it will be able to better assist students to the point where they won’t have to continually return. In order to maintain the success of the school’s student laptop program, it is imperative that these changes be made as swiftly as possible.