Occupy the Millennium Lab

Stephen McGarvey

Perhaps I’m being greedy. Perhaps there are more important issues, such as sweatshop labor, rising tuition costs and expensive student loans. But right now, the issues facing the University have finally hit home. This week, the McCombs School of Business decided that the Millennium Lab, one of the most frequently used resources in the business school, is to be shut down. Quite frankly, this the one of the worst decisions the business school could have made for its students.

Anyone who takes a look into the Millennium Lab — affectionately called the Mil Lab — will immediately understand its importance. It is packed with students all day. It serves as a place to collaborate and work with groups, a place to use hard-to-find and impossible-to-buy software and a place to get printing done quickly, easily and without cost. Removing it would affect hundreds, if not thousands, of students every day.

Business majors pay more in tuition than any other undergraduate at the University. With that, students expect all that extra money to benefit them in more ways than the occasional free meal at networking events. The Mil Lab helps students increase their productivity, collaborate and complete assignments. It is both more useful and more used than any other resource in the entire building. If the business school truly cared about its students, it would be building a second Mil Lab and doubling the study rooms in the Reliant Productivity Center.

And the Mil Lab does more than just help business students. It helps offload the already extensive demand for computers at the Perry-Castañeda Library. Without it, the waitlist for PCL computers would be that much worse. Business and non-business students alike would suffer as a result.

Look McCombs, we get it. You’re running a business. In fact, business is what you teach, so it should come as no surprise that profit is the only thing driving these types of decisions. But you’re also here to educate students, and part of that responsibility involves providing for them and giving them the resources to maximize their productivity. The Mil Lab does exactly that.

If McCombs were to eliminate the Mil Lab, students would have to download all of the multi-thousand dollar Excel add-ons and other MIS, accounting or statistics software to their own machines, which would probably cost the school even more. If McCombs needs to cut spending, there are far more effective places to do so. Free brownies in the Business Honors Program office, I’m looking at you.

But this article will accomplish nothing if it falls on deaf ears. Students must make their opinion very clear to David Burns, head of computer services, as well as Dean Thomas Gilligan. Most of all, students must pressure their professors and respective department heads. Professors, especially those teaching technical majors such as MIS, will not want their students crippled by the business school’s greed, and their input has far more impact than that of a student.

If all else fails, business students should band together and learn from the one group that most of them despise: the Occupiers. If anything can be learned from that rowdy lot of professional protesters, it is that a great amount of attention and annoyance can be generated from standing in one spot, shouting obnoxiously and refusing to leave. Perhaps staking a permanent presence in the Mil Lab will help the administration see that students take their resources seriously. McCombs take note: If the future targets of the Occupy movement are willing to occupy themselves to prove a point, you know you have a problem.

McGarvey is a business honors freshman.