The Seattle University technology department is taking notes from Apple. This quarter, the school will be establishing a walk-in support center akin to the corporate giant’s famous “Genius Bars,” among completing several other crucial updates to the university’s tech department. The center is set to open on February 24.
The walk-in support centers are designed to help students struggling with the Seattle U network, or other local technology problems. In the past, the only way students could get help with issues like these was to call a help desk.
The former system was never a favorite among members of the Seattle U community. Administrators wanted a more convenient way of dealing with the little problems that crop up while using the network, and students didn’t know where to go for help. Inspired by Apple’s Genius Bar, the center will be a physical location where students can bring buggy equipment for quick fixes. While it will not be equipped to handle “break-fixes,” professionals will be able to solve configuration issues.
According to Chief Information Officer Chuck Porter, the project is aimed specifically at improving the student experience.
“The center is really supposed to be a student-centric change. Students should feel cared for at SU, and living a technology-centered life in a space that is technology friendly is a big part of that,” said Porter.
Freshman Maya Normandi spoke about her experience with the old support system. “When my computer broke a few weeks before finals last quarter, it was frustrating to be told that the [physical] help desk was only available to law students,” she said. “Luckily, I was able to find a helpful company not far from campus, but it’s comforting to know that soon resources will be available to the entire undergraduate student body.”
The center is reportedly not going to require any additional funding from the student community. According to Porter, funding for the center will come entirely out of the existing IT budget.
Additionally, the school is working on updating the wireless network in the Douglas apartments. Back in August, when wireless updates were given to all residence halls on campus, the Douglas apartments were excluded. The updates, which were listed in an email, included, “1000 new Wi-Fi hotspots, 65 miles of fiber optic cable, bandwidth that has been upgraded from 1Gb/sec to 2Gb/sec, and wireless coverage that now spans 1.8 million sq. feet.”
While these improvements were supposed to extend to the Douglas Apartments, the building owners halted the progress. According to Porter, the reason for the exclusion of the apartments was entirely aesthetic. The building owners did not like the fact that the conduits and other improvements were going to be visible.
“After this was made clear to us, we had to stop the upgrades. Devices need to be installed in a way that guarantees that they will work,” Porter said. Douglas residents have effectively been second-class-network citizens at SU for most of this school year.
However, recently, the owners of the Douglas apartments
have rethought their stance on the issue. In realizing that a significant subset of the student body was being hurt by their decision to disallow the upgrades in their building, they are resolving the issue.
In November, Veronica Mazzolini wrote a story for The Spectator regarding these campus upgrades, and devoted a section of her article to technological shortcomings in the Douglas’. “[These upgrades] are all good news, except for those who live in Douglas,” said Mazzolini in discussing the lack of improvements there.
Currently, the owners and the administration are working to involve the Douglas with the updates already enjoyed by most of the student body.
“Almost all of the changes in recent memory have been student-centric,” said Porter. “What we want is for students to say the Seattle University tech experience is good and improving,” Porter said.
Will may be reached at [email protected]