Power Up, AU

If AU wants to be more green, it really needs more power outlets

Power Up, AU

You are trying to finish writing a cover letter for an internship application, taking notes during a lecture or writing a paper for your World Politics course, when suddenly the dreaded notification flashes across your laptop's screen warning you of your computer’s dangerously low battery. You look around, are there any plug outlets at your desk? No.

With the exception of certain Ward or Kogod classrooms, along with the Library and the McKinely building, many AU students are too far from the outlets that act as life support on for their dying laptops. Most students have access to a laptop, whether purchased or rented from the AU library. 

However, lack of outlets may not just mean a dead laptop, but also the inability for a student to take notes. Especially for those with learning disabilities, access to Blackboard for lecture slides to follow or Microsoft Word to take notes are crucial to their academic success.

In the classroom, you may regularly choose to sit in the front of the room so you can pay attention better during lecture. But when your laptop battery starts to die, you end up trying to find a seat near a wall outlet to charge your laptop or other electronic device that you utilize for educational purposes. However, that seat near the outlet may already be occupied by another student who is charging their device, you are not the only student in need of an outlet.

Furthermore, by not supplying an adequate amount of outlets, AU diminishes its green ideal. Some professors champion their courses to be green courses, however, by supplying little or no paper for their class, they must instead upload class material onto Blackboard or email them to students. If students need this information at hand, they are forced to either print it and use their printing dollars or view it on a laptop. While some may argue that a simple solution to this dilemma of the shortage of outlets may be for students to charge their devices before coming to class, it is not that simple when considering how busy AU students are. Frequently, students have back to back classes, are working at other campus locations or are running back and forth from their internships.  The reality is that in the 21st century age, most coursework requires the use of a computer and therefore the use of battery power. Airports offer charging stations for passengers who are travelling, universities should do the same for students who are studying.

Lack of convenient and accessible outlets in the classroom does not provide students unhindered access to materials posted online by professors, thus undermining the green initiative of the professor, but the basic service an institution of learning has to offer: access to learning materials. If AU is a research university, students should have access to more outlets, because a fully charged laptop, tablet or electronic device helps students and faculty attain and advance various learning and research goals.

The 2016-2017 academic year is not just another school year, it is a university budget year. If you think there is a lack of outlets in the classroom for your use, make your voice heard by telling the university administration or student government. Such a basic tool should not be so hard to find in the classroom. The cost of such a program may be substantial, but the benefits can save costs. Costs to maintain printers throughout campus can be decreased through the increased availability of outlets. Students having more access to outlets means less students depending on printing hard copy materials.

At the end of the day, it is the electrical outlet that helps power AU. In almost any hallway on campus, near classrooms, you see various bins for compost, recycling, trash and cardboard, which are designed to help keep AU green and clean. But looking inside the classroom, you barely see any outlets that most students can use. If we really want to be a green and eco friendly university, we should install more plug outlets. Just as we have multiple waste disposal bins, our classroom must be well equipped with outlets so students can utilize the devices that can save more paper and truly make the American dream green.

Sameer Chintamani is a senior in the School of International Service and a columnist for The Eagle.


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