After the office for information technology (OIT) placed a ban on gaming in Jesup last month, addressing concerns surrounding the interference of student gaming in computer labs with those spaces’ academic function, student gamers drafted a proposal for using the labs in a way that would not hinder academic work.
Only a select number of computers on campus support Geographic Information System (GIS), which is used for courses in the geosciences department. The GIS labs had not allowed gaming in the past and were available to students only for coursework. As many of the GIS labs moved into Jesup due to the Unified Science Center’s construction, however, OIT sought for the labs to allow use comparable to that of others in the building.
The conditions in which gamers left the rooms raised concerns throughout the semester. Personal belongings such as textbooks were continually left in labs, notably room 204, which is used by classes. In addition, after the student-organized League of Legends tournament over Winter Study, several keyboards were moved from one room to another and not returned. Students in GIS-based classes have also stated that noise and non-course activity have been distractions to their learning. “Labs have been left in a condition that is not conducive to teaching or learning,” said Kris Hoey, the office of student life’s (OSL) assistant director for student organizations and club sports.
After poor room conditions continued, despite a warning from OIT sent to student gaming groups, gaming was banned in room 204. A week later, the ban was extended to the entirety of Jesup. “We were pretty surprised by it,” said Abraham Park ’22, a regular gamer at Jesup. “After 204 got closed, people tried to be better about their stuff.”
In recent years, OIT has worked with students to allow for gaming on school computers without infringing upon academics on campus, although gaming in Jesup had not been allowed in the past. Jonathan Leamon, director of informational technology at OIT, and Cory Campbell, institutional technology specialist at OIT, expressed optimism that gaming privileges could be restored. “It is our hope that students could use some of these resources as long as they don’t adversely impact the learning of other students or the functioning of classes,” Leamon and Campbell told the Record. “Student learning must come first, of course, but it is great to have fun too. Many of us in OIT are gamers, so we are motivated to facilitate a good agreement.”
Park and Vincent Lin ’19 acknowledged the concerns raised that led to the ban but said that the problem had been with a select few in the gaming community, which has over 50 students. “We thought [the ban] disproportionately punishes the whole entire community for the fault of the few,” Lin said.
Students in the gaming community have reached out to offices across campus including OIT, OSL, the dean’s office and the provost’s office to express their disappointment with the ban on gaming in Jesup. OIT suggested that they work with OSL to find other spaces on campus better suited for gaming activity. OIT also asked that if students still wished to continue gaming in the Jesup computer labs, they submit a proposal detailing a plan using the computers in a way that would not hinder academic work.
Students have responded with an initial draft proposal containing a tentative set of rules governing gaming in Jesup, including set times for gaming and the creation of a new board to monitor and enforce rules. “What we really want these new rules to address is to lower the effects of these few individual bad actors and make the whole gaming community police the space that we are using,” Lin said. Lin, Park and other gamers are currently in conversation with OIT, OSL, geosciences faculty, the dean’s office, the provost and other stakeholders about the proposal.
“They have thought critically and creatively about how to help manage a space designed for academic work to allow time for gaming and their hope is to achieve a place and parameters where both can happen harmoniously,” Hoey said. “If an agreement can be reached among all these areas, an exception to use these academic labs for gaming could be put back in place,” Leamon and Campbell added.
Despite the current ban, student gamers remain hopeful about the community and administration response. “We definitely see this ban as a good wakeup call … a good opportunity for the community to improve themselves,” Lin said. “That’s why we are working toward a response that is more reasonable.”