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Language Lab not up to par for modern times

TORCH PHOTO— COURTNEY NUNESWhat would you do with a slew of three-decade old computers? In the Language Lab on the second floor of the Liberal Arts building, they are aptly used as dust-collectors.

What is there to be done with three-decade old computers nowadays? Auction them off to collectors, surely. Forage them for nifty old parts, possibly. Turn them on and use them? Who are you kidding? Perhaps in a personal setting, with a keen interest in old computers, it would make sense to use one for fun. But in a modern setting, in a university that boasts an extraordinarily dedicated language department that requires modern technology, computers from the ‘80s just don’t cut it.

The only use of the computer lab is to show movies. They aren’t used for teaching software to better aid students in their endeavor to master a foreign language. They aren’t even used to surf the internet. Honestly, they would probably blow up. Thusly, what we really have as a computer language lab is essentially, a lot of dusty, old bad-quality televisions.

For a university that had just been labeled as “truly world-class” by the London Times just three months ago, one would expect better facilities. UMass Dartmouth may not be world-renowned for its language department, but it undoubtedly boasts one of the most extraordinarily dedicated staff and faculty. Understandably, UMassD cannot provide maximum funds for all its departments, but comparing the state of, say, the widely-publicized renovation of the library to the dreary, useless old computer language lab, it is obvious that the funds have been unfairly allocated.

Certainly, the library is a campus-wide facility that needs to be updated, as is the gymnasium. The direct conflict lies in the $26 million promised to the bio-manufacturing facility that UMass Dartmouth will one day have, or the $45 million promised to the School of Marine Science and Technology. Yes, these things would be nice to improve upon, but rather than evenly divide its funds in a fair manner, the school seems to focus solely on improving certain departments while ignoring the dreadful state of its other departments.

Sure, the library may need renovations and yes, there are many and constant complaints of the gymnasium being too small. But did the school really need to allocate $10 million to improving wireless and high-speed communication? The Dell doesn’t get wireless internet connection and though it’s a hassle, the residents manage. $10 million was put toward improving what doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem, and less than half of that was put toward laboratory, art studio and classroom renovations. $4.5 million toward this worthy fund may seem to be a good number, but considering the number of classrooms we have and the poor state of almost each and every one of them, $4.5 million just isn’t enough.

Obviously, the goal of any university is to draw in students. That’s what makes a university a university. Certainly, a shiny new façade for the library would ooh and ahh prospective students and their parents. Of course, a giant gymnasium would impress incoming freshmen. But at the end of the day, students enroll in universities for their education, and a sub-par computer language lab will not slip past the attention of prospective students who wish to major or minor, or even dabble in the foreign languages. iMacs are not the request here, even computers from the ‘90s would greatly improve the learning experience and general aesthetic of the computer language lab. In comparison to all these nice, but not-very-necessary renovations and expansions, is that really so much to ask for?

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