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For clusters, downsizing complex

Staff Editorial | Friday, March 30, 2007

The line at the LaFortune computer cluster usually goes out the door during the middle of almost every day and most nights. The cluster in DeBartolo often fares better in the afternoon but worse earlier in the day. Students stay for hours at a time at both, doing projects, papers and presentations on fast-running IBMs and user-friendly Macs.

It’s with this in mind that the Office of Information Technologies (OIT) must move cautiously with its pilot program of downsizing computers in the Mendoza College of Business and the second floor of the Hesburgh Library.

The plan at the Library could be a successful new initiative. A handful of available laptops for students to rent while doing research in the stacks may represent a significant stride for the University. And the removal of excess computers in Mendoza, if indeed an excess exists, is fine.

However, at no point in time should OIT assume that success in this project indicates evidence for or support of any further reductions in the numbers of computers in clusters across campus.

Both the DeBartolo and LaFortune computer clusters teem with students daily because of their convenient locations and productive atmospheres. That few enough students were using the Mendoza and Library clusters is strong evidence to change the format of those areas – not any others.

And it’s also crucial that OIT realize the introduction of printers into dorms does not, for most students, eliminate the need for computer clusters.

The computers there have programs like Adobe Photoshop and Apple’s Final Cut Pro, which would be expensive purchases for students whose classes require them. The accessibility of those programs is one of the great assets of the University’s information technology department, and losing that would be a significant disservice to students.

If OIT keeps these considerations in mind, then the change in the computer clusters – including the downsizing of just these two – will be a positive step for Notre Dame.