Whether it’s a cup of coffee from Starbucks or a pack of NoDoz pills from the vending machine, the TECH Center is self-sufficient, running on the energy of more than 3 million visitors since its inception.
Maybe it’s the caffeine or the hum of technology in the air that makes the TECH Center come alive after-hours.
Because of its round-the-clock schedule during finals, student workers like Jackie Smith have seen it all at “Club TECH.”
Smith, a senior advertising major, assists students who encounter computer problems.
“If someone’s document gets lost or deleted, we have to play Dr. Phil to comfort them or run away before they kill us,” she said. “There can be a lot of yelling.”
Not all the late-night visitors are confrontational. Some are just out for a nap.
“People will sleep anywhere – chairs, floors, computer desks, breakout rooms. People will also make out anywhere,” Smith said, adding that she’s even caught several people masturbating to porn at different times of the day.
Student naps are common, but TECH Center workers try to make sure everyone is awake.
“One concern is if you see somebody who’s in there literally every night,” said Executive Director of Computer Services Gerald Hinkle. “Sometimes it might be an indication of a bigger problem. They’re homeless, or they’re having a bad relationship with their roommate.”
He said there was a student who showed up at the same time every night, didn’t touch a computer, went to sleep, woke up in the morning and caught a bus.
“If we see a situation where it looks like somebody may have a problem, and they’re sleeping there nightly, the police will come just to counsel them and see if there’s anything wrong,” Hinkle said.
WILL YOU WATCH MY STUFF?
In December, Campus Police approached TECH Center executives to create an awareness campaign in which they issued employees Post-its to leave on unattended belongings.
But for many, TECH Center theft is more a myth than a reality. Students often leave valuables unattended, but the TECH Center does not have an excessive amount of incidents.
According to the 2008 Campus Safety Annual Security Report, there were 387 thefts on Main Campus during the previous year. During Fall 2008, the TECH Center reported six unattended items missing, two of which were outside the building.
“The good thing about the TECH Center is that we can lock it,” said Computer Services Associate Vice President Sheri Stahler. “We don’t want anyone hiding in little nooks and crannies. We want everybody to feel safe.”
Hinkle said this is one reason for the swipe system and front-door security.
“If someone who’s not a student comes in, there’s a bigger risk of theft,” he said.
There are also panic buttons behind the desks, as well as newly installed emergency call buttons throughout the computer labs with direct lines to police.
TECH Center printers are in high demand. Hinkle said the center uses roughly 17,500 sheets of paper daily, but the number dropped since the switch to double-sided printing.
“No set of books would cover all the material that I wanted to cover,” said Elliot Ratzman, a professor from the Jewish studies department. “When deciding which texts to require for purchase, I have tried to be mindful of the cost.”
He previously taught at other schools where students have unlimited free printing.
“I was shocked to find that printing was so expensive at Temple,” he said. “However, given all this, I discovered that many of my students never printed the readings out but downloaded them to their computers.”
The TECH Center currently has 14 black-and-white laser printers, two color laser printers, two inkjet printers and two poster printers.
During the Fall 2008 semester, a total of 1,719,963 sheets of paper were printed, from 587,913 individual print jobs.
Marilyn S. D’Angelo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.