Students cry out as the well-known and loved Cybercafe was closed with almost no warning on May 18, 2018.
The Cybercafe was an ideal hang-out spot for many students; not just the Gamers Club. Students would go to spend time with friends, play games, or do homework. Faculty and students alike only received notice a month before the close, resulting in a disconnect with administration.
It has been speculated by affected students that all of the lab’s resources, excluding the computers, were sold on private auction, which makes it likely that the plans to close the Cybercafe were in the works months before it was discovered.
The previous Cybercafe space was turned into the Center for Excellence. The idea here is to make things more convenient for faculty and staff to meet in one place. One of the only perceived pluses from the student view is for Phi Theta Kappa , the Honors room, Dual Credit and High School Partnerships and Institutional Research and Effectiveness to be connected to the new center.
Dr. Yolanda Farmer, Vice President for Student Development, says, “Most colleges now have some version of their own Center for Excellence in order to provide training needs for JJC employees…having a central location for the center was important.”
Prior to public knowledge, there had been no meetings or disclosure to the student body about this closure.
However, Farmer says something else. “Notices were provided regarding the closing of the Cybercafé to impacted faculty, staff and students.”
Contradicting Farmer’s statement, advocate Jefferson Cherrington, a previous president of the Gamers Club says that,“There was definitely a strong lack of communication between the administration who made that decision and the people who actually use that facility.”
When Student Government got wind of the closing, they immediately called a meeting with the cabinet to obtain signatures to save the student-cherished space.
Thanks in part to their efforts, instead of cutting the Cybercafe completely, administration attempted to relocate the space to the computer labs or the library. Students expressed negative feelings about such an action and continued to fight. The aftermath was a “temporary solution space” located in T building (T-1041), however this unmarked area is not officially a Cybercafe replacement yet.
The new room is out of the way and significantly smaller. Paul Schroeder, Nursing lab assistant and adviser of the Gamers Club, says that he attempted to work with administration to make the new room functional and maximize the space. Administration has not complied to his requests. Instead, the new room received leftover furniture.
“They did the minimum amount of work to get away with [our new Cybercafe space],” Schroeder stated.
“It’s definitely ‘out of sight out of mind,’” said Jacob Hollings, student at JJC majoring in Art and a member of the Gamers Club. “The student space should be somewhere you can see it.”
Farmer stated that the new space contained the same computers and hoped to upgrade in the future. But students and faculty said otherwise.
According to Schroeder, the Cybercafe was given computers around 10 years old that are unable to play actual games efficiently. There are also no academic computers or printers available anymore.
Cherrington was disheartened over how administration handled the ordeal. “It sends the message to me that this space is trying to be eradicated through statistics. Because if no one can find it, no one wants to go there and because the machines don’t work, then there’s no need for the space.”
He also decided that following this incident he would become a student advocate and attempt to fight for students: particularly, student dedicated space.
Student Government, Gamers Club, and a number of other growing clubs are all working towards obtaining a permanent dedicated student space.
Schroeder also mentioned that a few years ago, administration decided (in advance this time) to take the front half of the Cybercafe. By doing so, they eliminated the pool table, arcade games, and the overall spaciousness of the room.
Maxwell Scott-Schroeder, student at JJC majoring in Computer and Network Security and a member of the Gamers Club as well, stated his thoughts on the old Cybercafe. “I remember the original Cybercafe before they took away the first half of it and it was incredible. There were students who would go there just for the pool table, arcade games, and it was fun. There was more stuff to do than sit on our computer and do homework or play a video game. It was like a flashback almost and it was just… an experience you can’t find everywhere. As a college student, I would have very much liked it if I could still do that.”
Students began to approach Schroeder when they learned of the Cybercafe closing, even though he was not officially in charge of it. When he learned what was happening from Pam Dilday, Director of Student Activities, and when students started coming up to him for answers, he decided to step in and attempt to speak to the President, Dr. Judy Mitchell. It ended with no results.
“They just wanted someone to lead the fight, so I actually started volunteering those hours,” Schroeder said. “Students asked me to stick up for them and represent for them, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”
The Cybercafe, in Schroeder’s opinion, was just a tiny piece of the problem. The overall issue was with student space.
Student Government has been consistently bringing up the Cybercafe and the overall issue of dedicated student space as well. So far, there have been little results because administration says there are no extra spaces available. But Schroeder says differently.
“They say we can’t just make space out of nothing, but you can: that’s how buildings exist.”
In the past, administration also attempted to defund OSA to the astonishment of the faculty and student body. It was met with harsh aggression from students going to board meetings and never passed.
“[At] town hall meetings, [JJC] as a whole works to provide this idea that we as an organization are transparent with our students. We are trying to communicate with our students when something happens. We don’t just make moves and expect the people that we serve to ‘hopefully’ get the hint,” Cherrington added. “That’s why this situation to me has been aggravating.”
This situation may lead students to question their ability to trust the administration’s interests at JJC. A student’s ability to trust in administration policy and insight may be restored if a solution can be derived in the form of a Cybercafe, reminiscent of its former self.
Farmer remains hopeful for the future. She says that administration is pleased that the Cybercafe was relocated and not closed, and that the students have done a great job of expressing themselves. She also wants to commend Cyndi Vasquez-Barrios and Schroeder for working with administration and serving as a resource and student liaison.
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