Computing facility in Eshleman Hall to close after next semester

Kevin Foote/Senior Staff
The Open Computing Facility, located in the basement of Eshleman Hall, is closing at the end of the Spring 2012 semester.

A campus facility which provides free web hosting and printing for students, faculty and staff will close its lab services after the spring 2012 semester ends, facility staff members announced in an email Wednesday.

Staff members of the Open Computing Facility made the decision to close the lab after considering the constraints posed by relocating the facility from its current location in the basement of Eshleman Hall to a smaller space in Hearst Gymnasium for the duration of the construction associated with the Lower Sproul renovation project.

“This area is limited both in space and technical resources, and we feel that it would be a disservice to all (facility) members to provide an unreliable and inadequate level of service, in both quality and quantity,” the email states. “We would not be able to fit much of our computing and printing equipment into the space allotted to us, and time constraints limit what can be set up before the fall semester begins.”

According to the email, the facility will be moved out of the building in August but will continue to run its website hosting service — which hosts an abundance of websites associated with student groups — and to offer email accounts.

Kelsey Killoran, a front desk officer for the facility and other organizations located in the basement, said the room allotted in the gym was not sufficient to hold the full lab.

“We have 20 plus computers plus servers that take up an entire room,” Killoran said. “That’s barely enough to fit seven computers, much less servers. The (facility) generally has 24 or more patrons at any time on any given day.”

Killoran added that facility staff are still in discussions regarding finding a new space for the center that is large enough to house the lab.

“They’re still talking with (ASUC) senators and looking for alternative spaces, but it’s looking bleak because there really aren’t alternative spaces,” Killoran said.

The discontinuation of lab services may have a large impact on students who utilize the facility’s free printing service, which allows students to print up to 250 pages for free every semester.

UC Berkeley senior Denise Wong said the loss of lab services could negatively affect students who depend on it for free printing.

“I use the OCF very often and I’m very distressed about it closing because it’s not only very convenient but also takes into account that there are students who can’t afford to maintain their own printers,” Wong said. “It’s sad that they’ll be deprived of that resource.”