Students at UConn have encountered more difficulties using classrooms and lecture halls to watch movies after hours this semester.
“For the majority of last semester, I used several different lecture halls to watch movies with friends on the weekends, sometimes we ran into other people, but no trouble happened until we got back from winter break,”, a second-semester actuarial science major, Natalie Baliker said.
Baliker said the projector and light systems began turning off in the middle of the movies while she was watching them and then the system would display a message that it was locked until 6 a.m.
“We weren’t sure why it was a problem all of a sudden, since we never had any issues until this semester,” Baliker said.
UConn’s Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said the classrooms are only to be used for academic purposes or club activities with a reservation.
“The classrooms often have valuable technology that can be broken, everything from the white boards to the automated window blinds, so the University has to control and monitor the use of the rooms to ensure the items are safe and in good operating order,” Reitz said.
There have been instances of the classrooms being disrupted, Reitz said.
“We’ve had several instances in which items have been broken or classrooms have been left with the furnishings disorganized and trash dropped throughout, and obviously that poses a problem when students and professors arrive the next morning for class,” Reitz said.
There was even one incident when an individual fell asleep in one of the classrooms, Reitz said.
Inappropriate usage of academic facilities has become a larger problem in recent years, Reitz said.
“It’s happened most frequently in the last two years since we opened Oak Hall,” Reitz said.
Reitz said the University has been more diligent in monitoring unauthorized usage of classroom technology this semester.
“We’ve been monitoring it more closely this semester and enforcing it more stringently, as will be the case going forward,” Reitz said.
University Information Technology Services receives a notification any time someone logs into the system after it automatically shuts down at 11 p.m. and can turn it off again remotely, Reitz said.
“A lot of time people don’t realize that someone is aware that they’re in there and they shouldn’t be,” Reitz said.
Turning the system off does not always result in the students leaving the room, Reitz said.
“We’ve had instances where the students have then gotten up and turned the televisions back on after we’ve remotely turned them off, not knowing their actions were viewable on camera,” Reitz said.
The next step is for UITS to ask the students to leave over the speaker system. If they refuse to do so, the police may be called in to deal with the situation, Reitz said.
“In the few cases when they don’t (leave), UConn police have come to ask them to leave. That’s unusual, though, as they usually leave when they’re asked over the speakers,” Reitz said.
Baliker said she does not think this is an appropriate policy.
“I think shutting down the AV systems is uncalled for,” Baliker said, “On more than one occasion, I have witnessed other students using classrooms and computers to study and without the system on, finding an available quiet space is not a guarantee.”
Students usually have harmless motives for using the rooms, Reitz said.
“Generally people have gone with good intent to watch a movie and not realizing that they’re not allowed to use those spaces,” Reitz said.
Baliker said she believes students should be able to use the lecture halls and classrooms so long as they are responsible.
“I don’t see anything wrong with the use of school facilities, even after hours or on weekends,” Baliker said, “If it’s there and no one’s using it, it seems like a waste.”