CMU to stop purchasing VCRs, working to convert media to digital files

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

Central Michigan University will stop purchasing and repairing classroom VCRs beginning in the spring semester.

However, this does not mean the machines will not be used on campus next year. Classrooms with VCRs already in them and working can still be accessed, just not replaced if and when they fail, said Kole Taylor, manager of the Office of Information Technology Communications.

“By next fall, we will try to maintain the status quo,” Taylor said. “As VCRs start to die, they will not be replaced.”

For the past year, CMU considered no longer purchasing VCRs for several reasons.

“The problem is it is remarkably difficult to find quality VCRs,” Taylor said. “It makes it pretty tough to support those.”

In addition to the arduous task of finding enough VCRs in bulk, they also have to be programmed to the Crestron panels, which is what connects everything to the classroom projectors.

The decision to move toward a more digital basis was discussed in several committees. The entire faculty has received word on the decision and media services were contacted specifically, Taylor said.

“We encourage faculty to check out streaming online,” Taylor said.

Stephanie Mathson, assistant professor in the library, handles the library’s collection of non-print media.

“For a couple of decades, the use of VHS tapes has dropped as we have replaced the format with DVDs and streaming copies,” Mathson said. “It does impact us because we have withdrawn some of the tapes.”

Most of the videos located in the library are educational films and other documentaries.

“We are talking about films that are not usually found in Family Video or on Netflix,” Mathson said. “I have replaced, and will continue to replace, the older versions.”

There has also been talk of formatting the VHS tapes into DVDs if they are not found in any other format. There are many distributors for the tapes regarding copyright, in which case, the university would need to get their permission.

“If we can’t find it in an alternate format, we might receive permission from copyright owners to change the format,” Mathson said.

English instructor Elizabeth Berriman, who has several VHS tapes regarding linguistics and the different uses in dialect, has already decided to try to transition to digital formats.

“There are three videos I check out of the CMU library regularly,” Berriman said.

When she was notified about the change in course regarding the VCRs, she called the university library in search of her three tapes. Mathson had found all three videos in DVD format, including a tape that was created in the 1970s.

Lake Orion junior Jacob Montalvo-Santiheo has begun to notice the irrelevance of movies from the past decade when used in the classroom.

“I think it’s about time (to update), because most instructional videos are from the ’90s,” he said

Two of Montalvo-Santiheo’s classes have used numerous videos, most of which had been from VHS tapes.

“I think it’s unfair, but good to force (professors) to find an updated version of the material,” Montalvo-Santiheo said. “It’s definitely a good change overall.”

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Nov. 25, 2012)


Subway restaurant open in Towers, averaging more than 400 customers per day

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

The P.O.D. Market, complete with a Subway restaurant, opened Nov. 7 in the Towers.

Aramark employee Julie Burgan said the newly-opened Subway has had between 480 and 950 customers per day since opening. Based on the first week alone, expectations are high for years to come for the P.O.D. Market and its availability to students.

“(We intend) to continue to serve the dining needs of Towers residents while maintaining Subway’s national brand standards,” Burgan said.

Burgan confirmed about 60 students have been hired so far to work at the restaurant.

“Subway is the No. 1 brand that has surfaced on numerous surveys that Campus Dining has done over the past few years as to which brand students would like to see on campus,” Burgan said. “Because of that, Campus Dining investigated the possibility of opening a Subway on campus and made the recommendation to the university.”

Taco Bell was also popular on the survey handed out to students.

“Campus Dining investigated the possibility of offering Taco Bell,” Burgan said. “However, it was determined that opening a Taco Bell in the Towers was not possible.”

In July, a renovation of the C3 Convenience Store in the Towers began and added 700 square feet of space in order to install the restaurant. The date of completion was originally set to be Nov. 1.

John Fisher, associate vice president for Residences and Auxiliary Services, told CM Life previously the restaurant will not be considered a retail location.

“We won’t really get the on-campus traffic. That’s not really our intent,” Fisher said previously. “We’re excited about having a Subway on campus because it is a popular franchise with students. I look at it as another option for students and one that is probably seen in a favorable light.”

In addition to Subway, CMU offers on-campus food franchises such as Starbucks, Papa John’s Pizza and Quiznos.

U-M experiences record enrollment, despite decline in freshmen

By Tony Wittkowski | Senior Reporter | Central Michigan Life

The University of Michigan has experienced an increase in enrollment for the fall 2012 semester, breaking the record the school set last year.

Despite the sudden increase in students, U-M has also seen a decrease in overall investments and the number of freshmen.

According to a report prepared by the U-M Office of the Registrar, enrollment at the Ann Arbor campus is now at 43,426 students.

Of those students, roughly two-thirds are undergraduates, which is a 2.1 percent increase from last year. However, the number of freshmen has dropped by 1.3 percent, to a total of 6,171.

The other third of the student body composes of 15,447 graduate students as of this fall.

The number of applications sent to the university was also a record-setter this year, as applications rose by 7.5 percent. Despite the increase, the university dropped their admission offers by 3.3 percent from 2011.

U-M is known for how stringent it is about accepting applications with a certain GPA, as well as a higher SAT score than other universities in the state.

One possibility for the record-setting enrollment numbers, despite the decline in freshmen numbers, is that an overload of transfer students may have skewed the numbers.

The Office of Public Affairs at U-M could not be reached for comment.