Lack of printers impact SoCos

For most students, having a functioning printer within reach is something that people often take for granted, but for residents of the South Commons Apartments, printing becomes a privilege with lack of reliable access a printer.

“I have received many complaints about the lack of VPrint access from SoCo residents,” wrote South Commons Manager Brian Starkman ’14 in an emailed statement.

“Receiving closes at 4:30 pm on a weekday and is closed all weekend, severely limiting the number of hours that students have access to a printer. The closest building that students have 24/7 access to is Main, which is a good 15 minute walk away.”

“The SoCos are far away from everything,” said South Commons President Rebecca Bauer ’14, when summarizing many of the complaints she had received. “It is a further walk than if people in the Terrace Apartments (TAs) had to go to Main. It is a lot different for us to go to Main. Our closest building that our House Advisor suggested was Skinner, but that is still closed at night as well, so that is not particularly helpful.”

Preparations for the new Bridge Building, which include the partial closure of the Academic Quad, have also impeded South Commons residents from venturing onto Main campus after hours.

“Darkness, bad weather, and new detours from ongoing construction makes this trek particularly inconvenient,” wrote Starkman. “A few of my friends have been frustrated by the situation and have been repeatedly asking me for updates. They have even considered sending mass emails.”

The problem, however, rests in the fact that the South Commons does not have adequate space for a printer in its only communal area—the laundry room. This is unlike the Town Houses (THs) and Terrace Apartments, which house their printers in one of their multiple respective laundry rooms.

When asked to comment on the possibility of moving the printer to a common space, Bauer said, “I don’t think that the laundry room is the best place for our printer, because there is literally not space for it. We have built-in counters and a sink.”

John Collier, Director of User Services at Vassar’s Computing and Informational Services (CIS), also notes that the small size of the South Common’s laundry room can trap and concentrate humidity when the washers and driers are in use, thus making the space too humid for a printer to function properly.

According to Collier, Shipping and Receiving is one of the only logical spaces to house the printer. “We installed a copier in Receiving for SoCo residents, but as you know, for security reasons, we restricted access to only when staff was present,” wrote Collier in an emailed statement.

These security reasons include concern over package theft, as well as concern over students’ rights to privacy.

Despite this, Bauer nevertheless hopes to increase student access to the South Commons’ existing printer. She said, “I think that the solution that we should be striving for is getting 24-7 access—or closer to that—to the printer in Receiving, which, if they lock up the back where the packages are, I do not foresee it being a major issue.”

Bauer also noted that Alison Ehrlich ’15, Vassar Student Association (VSA) Vice President of Operations, had been forwarded a number of the South Commons residents’ complaints, and was thus aware of the issue.

Starkman has also been working within his respective sphere to find a more accessible space for the printer. “The ROC is aware of the issue and I have been working with them on a solution. I believe the solution lies with CIS since they are in control of college printers and card access to buildings,” said Starkman in an emailed statement.

“We always strive to balance safety/security with convenience/functionality, so let’s open up a new dialog,” wrote Collier.

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