Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
After a summer away from the rolling green lawn of the beach, you expect Swarthmore to seem a little different, but sometimes change arrives in the middle of the semester. With new technology in McCabe, new plates in Sharples, and new icons on the Student Dashboard, the Gazette would like to give a mid-semester update on some of the day-to-day changes at Swarthmore.
Along the counter from the circulation desk at McCabe Library a new computer and barcode scanner allows students to check out their own library books. The process is simple: first you scan your student ID and then the barcode of the book you want to check out. After that, write the return date in the yellow insert, and log out of the computer, so no one can check out books in your name. Other college and public libraries, including the library a Bryn Mawr, utilize self check out technology to minimize lines. DVD’s still must be taken to the circulation desk as their cases need to be unlocked before check-out. According to librarian Alison J. Masterpasqua the station opened on October 26, and had logged 24 checkouts as of November 12.
Students are quick to notice changes in the menu at Sharples, but what about the small wares? The old china has been disappearing, replaced by melamine plastic bowls. Melamine is a practical change: it’s less breakable, lighter for students carrying trays and the dish room staff, and cools faster after coming out of the dishwasher. The plates do have one drawback: they cannot be used in the microwave. However, the issue will be remedied by a stack of paper plates next to microwave that students can use instead. Director of Dining Services Linda McDougal says that the staff hopes to eventually turn all small wares into plastic.
Changes that began earlier in the semester include new washers and dryers in Willets and Dana dormitories. “This upgrade came at no expense to the college,” says Stuart Hain, Vice President for Facilities and Services, “In fact our laundry machine supplier, Caleco, replaces our washers and dryers about every five years.” Also, new handicapped accessible laundry facilities are available in the Worth J section laundry room.
On the technology front, Information and Technology Services introduced Swatfiles at the beginning of the semester. In 2008, as part of a campaign to refurbish communications at Swarthmore, ITS conducted a survey and discovered that 55% of students and 60% of staff felt it was extremely important to be able to send large files. Eric Bahren, Swarthmore’s Associate Chief Information Technology Officer, and the ITS team concluded a new venue for document sharing was needed. Swatfiles, based on the product Xythos which has been successfully implemented at other institutions, allows students to share documents of any size in a secure environment accessible via the Internet. Elizabeth Crow ‘10 described as “Blackboard meets Student Server meets Google Documents.” Julian Leland ’12, on the other hand, said “Although I’m excited by the promise it shows (fast, anywhere-accessible storage is always good), I have yet to be impressed by its implementation. The sharing function is especially confusing.”