Saxa Politica: Technological Disconnects

September 27, 2012

We’ve all seen the signs on vending machines scattered across campus and felt the tinge of frustration and hopelessness. “Out of order,” reads the black box hammered onto an otherwise sleek dispenser. While the uncertainty of being able to purchase Coke at machines in the Leavey Center or in shadowy corners of the campus does not necessarily condemn the GOCard Office, the prevalence of frequently nonfunctional equipment points to a deeper issue with Auxiliary Business Services, GOCard’s parent institution.

For the most part, the technological mishaps can be attributed to bad communication.

Auxiliary Services, which serves more as an aggregator of campus institutions than an actual governing body, acts as a middleman between member offices and the outside parties that contribute to said offices.

Information on problems with the GOCard readers, for instance, travels from the GOCard Office to Auxiliary services to Blackboard technicians. Feedback does not necessarily make its way back, however; GOCard Office staff members live in ignorance of the status of their complaint.

Logic would dictate the necessity of an employee traveling to the hardware installation in question to verify the technicians’ response, or at the very least requesting a follow-up, but such steps seem to have eluded the staff.

A two-step notification process does not always yield efficient results, even with a built-in system of feedback. Auxiliary Services, which changed the price of soda bottles in vending machines from $1.25 to $1.50 over the summer, failed to notify the GOCard Office.

Buying Coke products with a GOCard became impossible for much of this semester, since the readers took only $1.25 from a card. Thankfully, this problem has recently been resolved.

Technological ineptitude runs rampant outside of bureaucracy as well. The concept of websites appears to be particularly troublesome for Auxiliary Services.

Frequent inability to log into the deposit page of the GOCard site, especially using Safari, demonstrates the University’s detachment from post-Cold War era innovation. In an attempt to ameliorate the login errors and looping script, the GOCard Office suggests abandoning progress altogether and using Internet Explorer.

The portion of the Auxiliary Services website devoted to the Main Campus Bookstore, too, reveals a peculiar attachment to the good old days.

“New this year is an Apple Authorized Campus Store, offering Apple notebooks for purchase,” reads the description. The Campus Store has been open since 2009.

Such foibles, though inefficient, and easily avoidable, could be excused, if these incidents were sufficiently isolated. Unfortunately for Georgetown, general ignorance of technology is omnipresent.

Facilities exhibits the most cases of unnecessarily broken equipment. Elevators allied with inefficient communication, for instance, have typically proven to be the most worthy adversaries for repairmen. Leavey Center elevators, which are fairly representative of the vertical travel situation on campus, frequently malfunction, trapping terrified freshmen and occasional disillusioned Center for Student Programs employees.

Following such incidents, elevators routinely stand on the first floor, helplessly opening and closing their doors, unable to shake off the caution tape and the “Out of Order” signs.

Even when functioning normally, in the full ironic sense of the word, Leavey elevators are estimated to be the third greatest waste of time for students, after attending classes and waiting in line at Georgetown Cupcake.

In the more extreme case of the modern Hariri Building—with its still-functioning elevators—technical issues still affect students’ experiences. Printers frequently malfunction, leading to excruciating lines in the most high-traffic areas of the building. The MSB Technology Center’s conversations with Xerox rival those of the GOCard office and Auxiliary Services; the most recent case forced a printer to be shut down for two weeks.

In spite of such issues, Regents Hall offers a glimmer of hope for the dearth of attention given to not only technology, but also to mundane systems like air conditioning units and elevators on campus. A marvel of engineering, the new science center hosts most ventilation tubes, plumbing, and wiring in a channel running up the middle of the building, greatly increasing the energy and material flow efficiency of the structure.

Regents, at least in its idealized marketing program, represents what Georgetown could become with less bureaucratic involvement in issues of technology and fewer instances of avoidable carelessness sprinkled across campus offices. Until these attitudes toward technology are altered at a fundamental level with optimal efficiency in mind, the generations to come will be stuck on the first floor, unable to open the broken automatic door.

Show Kirill your Ayo Technology at

Kirill Makarenko
Former Assistant Leisure Editor

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