Eight large and bright televisions recently appeared in Whitmans’ and the Paresky stairwells. Their installation sparked initial skepticism about the necessity for so many monitors in such a small space. Now that they are on, that skepticism has turned to contempt. The televisions add little to student life and therefore the decision to spend $90,000 on them was irresponsible. Now that the televisions are here, however, they must be used effectively.
If the purpose of the televisions is to disseminate information, then one in the dining area and one in the main hall would have been more than sufficient. Being able to view three screens in the small space of Whitmans’, or several from any given location in Baxter Hall, is excessive. Akin to the failed attempt to play music in Paresky, the televisions result in sensory overload that no one asked for or needs. Information already flowed freely in Baxter Hall, with its posters and other creative ad campaigns, before the TVs descended. Whereas the choice to add computers to the mailroom was long awaited and has already realized its purpose, this technological addition has so far been only a disappointment.
The current operation of the TVs is just short of embarrassing. The only events being advertised are those coming straight out of the Office of Campus Life. Knowing that SuperStressbusters is coming on May 12 is just about the last piece of information anyone needs during midterms, as it is only a reminder of the impending doom of finals. Besides, no one needs to be marking their calendars for numerous bowls of free candy one night in Paresky, two months from now. As message boards, the TVs are not only ineffective, but aesthetically off-putting: bright greens and pinks, cumbersome layout and block lettering only add to the problem.
Those operating the TVs – Campus Life, the Office of Information Technology and Dining Services – have pointed out that learning to use them will take time. While they are learning, these staff members need to focus on harnessing the greatest potential of these behemoths so that their purchase is not a waste. Switch one of the televisions to the news, muted with subtitles, for those that want to catch the latest headlines without the noise pollution. Install a news ticker on those televisions that dispense campus news. Display only events that are pertinent and current. Encourage student groups to e-mail PDFs of their flyers to be displayed on-screen.
Especially considering that the $90,000 that the College spent on these monstrosities would have been better used to fund student groups or club sports, these televisions must be used to the greatest possible effect. We’re waiting.