Desire Atugonza and her only coworker for the night were sitting behind the desk at Concordia College’s Information Technology Service office. The two were answering emails and catching up on their lives.
Suddenly, one of the three phones at the office started to ring. As Atugonza reached for it, the second phone began to ring. In her hesitation between which phone to answer first, the third phone contributed to the trilling echoing within the ITS office.
She glanced at her coworker, and their alarmed eyes met.
Ding! The signal that someone was at the door of the office went off.
As Atugonza peered around the desk to look out to the door, she was met with the faces of eight different students clutching their malfunctioning computers to their chests.
Miah Sandvik, a Concordia sophomore, said her computer problems also included blue screen errors or a sudden system crash that displayed an error message on a blue background.
“My computer was working fine at first, and then suddenly it stopped connecting to Wi-Fi. I would get some blue screen errors, but my main problem was not being able to connect to Wi-Fi,” said Sarah DeSmith, another Concordia sophomore.
Sandvik’s and DeSmith’s gave their laptops to ITS for a few days so their technical issues would hopefully be sorted out.
When ITS called Sandvik back, the employee said they could not fix her computer for liability reasons, and recommended she have an outside organization, like Best Buy, fix it.
“When I went in the next day for an update on it, Desire was working. And she said, ‘Sarah. We have developed a personal attachment to your computer trying to get it fixed,’” said DeSmith.
DeSmith ultimately suffered the same fate as Sandvik and had to ship her computer to Best Buy. But while Sandvik was able to rent out one of the college’s loaner laptops, DeSmith was not so lucky.
“We are realizing the demand for fixing laptops is higher than we expected,” Atugonza said.
ITS is almost completely out of loaner laptops set aside for students who cannot afford a laptop or need to send in their computers to get fixed.
With no laptop, DeSmith is forced to trek out to the library, a walk she said takes up to ten minutes. Once she arrives, she has to search for an empty room with an unoccupied computer, because she said the use of library computers has increased dramatically since last year.
“I would maybe see one or two people using library computers last year,” said DeSmith. “This year, there’s at least five people on computers in the main atrium of the library, and that’s not counting the fishbowl or individual study rooms.”
DeSmith said she sees the increased use of library computers as a sign that the internet is a point of struggle for many. Across campus, as students and staff have been faced with internet instability and defective computers, more and more people have started to gravitate to the campus ITS office.
Atugonza worries about this campus-wide problem because of how understaffed ITS is. Increased foot traffic means more demand for ITS workers and resources than it can provide.
Just last week, Atugonza recalls a student who came in to extend her computer loan time. Not thinking anything of it—and not realizing how depleted ITS resources were—she said, “oh yeah we can definitely do that!”
“It turns out, my manager was only able to give her a week’s extension,” said Atugonza.
“That literally happened to me a week ago,” said Sandvik. “I went in and asked for an extension, but they said I can only use a loaner for a week and that they can’t give out a longer extension.”
Ultimately, Sandvik and DeSmith believe ITS is handling this campus crisis smoothly; they both said they had excellent experiences with the ITS staff.
“They’re delightful people,” said Sandvik. “I highly recommend going to them.”
While ITS may have a shortage of staff and resources right now, it looks like they do not have a shortage of support for Concordia students.