Student tech committee solves problems, seeks student input during COVID-19

The Workshop in Cabell Library will open on Sept. 8. Photo by Jon Mirador

Sagal Ahmed, Contributing Writer

Before COVID-19, VCU’s Student Technology Advisory Committee fixed Wi-Fi dead spots. Now, the group works alongside the IT Support Center to loan laptops to students and faculty members with more online classes and activities than ever before. 

Kennedy said there are around 300 Chromebook laptops in the IT Support Center — around the corner from the Workshop in the lower level of Cabell Library — available for two-week loans during the fall semester. 

STAC has worked with Colleen Bishop, the director of academic technologies at VCU, on projects that provide technology for the classroom, such as distributing laptops and setting up Zoom accounts.

VCU allows all students, faculty and staff members to access an enterprise Zoom account as of March 18. This removes the 40-minute time restriction for standard meetings and allows up to 300 participants, Bishop said.

Students and faculty members can access the account by logging onto vcu.zoom.us with a VCU eID and password. If you have any additional questions, contact the IT Support Center at itsc@vcu.edu

STAC was formed in 2014 for students to interact and converse with VCU Technology Services employees about technological issues they were facing in academic and social settings. 

Director of Technology Support Services Sam Kennedy said the committee has given them more “thoughtful responses” than surveys and other feedback mechanisms.

“We were missing the context with the students,” Kennedy said, “and this is why we created the group.” 

The committee periodically meets to discuss university-wide tech problems in a think tank setting, first crafting a response plan and then working to solve the problem.

Kennedy said the committee tried larger projects such as promoting technology resources around campus at tabling events and tech fairs, but he said the group is better at bringing up issues they hear from fellow students on campus.

One of these issues included the Wi-Fi dead spots in some of the residence halls –– Ackell Residence Center, Rhoads Hall and most recently Grace and Broad –– which they resolved with VCU Residential Life & Housing to create a more “robust Wi-Fi environment.”

Students and faculty members can email STAC at stac@mymail.vcu.edu with any technology problems they have or believe needs to be discussed.

Junior electrical engineering major and STAC chairperson Amy Ariel said she has a rough idea of how the committee will operate this year. 

The group will meet over Zoom in an informal setting where they can freely share what they like and dislike about the committee and how to move forward in the 2020-21 academic year.

Ariel felt that she and VCU “weren’t on the same page” in the spring semester and wants to fix that.

“What I want to do this semester is figure out ways to increase that level of connection and make students feel more connected, more proud of VCU,” Ariel said.

This article was corrected to include the location of the IT Support Center. 

1 Comment

  1. Hey y’all, the IT Support Center is loaning out the Chromebooks, not the Workshop. The ITSC is around the corner from the Workshop.

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