Since Binghamton University replaced the Pharos printing system with Print@Binghamton at the beginning of the semester, students have been encountering difficulties while trying to print, especially during the first week of classes.
At first, the problem was that students were unable to print from the PCs in the library, which constitute the majority of the computers. Later, the PCs were fixed, but some students did not have any money for printing in their accounts, and the system was overloaded with the number of printing jobs it needed to complete. The numerous technological malfunctions caused frustration for countless students, and it seemed irresponsible of the University to install such a flawed system.
Upon recognizing the immediate issues with the printing system, which wouldn’t allow many students to print, Information Technology Services (ITS) reinstated the Pharos system on some of the printers. Though this admittedly quick, Band-Aid solution allowed students to continue printing, it did little for the massive printing lines.
The Editorial Board questions why the new system wasn’t tested before implementation. According to Michael Allington, director of support services at ITS, the system was tested, but his department was not able to simulate the printing workload of BU’s large student population. Although we understand that it’s difficult to simulate the way the system will work when about 20,000 students are using it, we still assert it should have been more thoroughly tested before application so that the University could avoid inconveniencing students during the first week of classes.
Though there did not appear to be any issue with the old system, the new system, which would allow students to easily send documents to the printer remotely and then simply scan their student ID to print them, seems like it will be more efficient once it is fully operational. When asked why the new system was implemented in the first place, Allington said ITS had received comments from students who wanted to be able to print from mobile devices, and print more quickly overall. It is commendable that the University is taking this student feedback into account and using it to improve campus facilities, as well as attempting to create a system that is simpler to use.
The new system will also make it less expensive to add printers to campus because, according to Allington, “The new system is licensed to the campus, instead of licensed by printer, making it less expensive to add printers in the future.” We hope ITS will take advantage of this cheaper price and add more printers, especially in Glenn G. Bartle Library, the most popular printing location on campus. Especially with the lofty goal of increasing BU’s population to 20,000 students by 2020, more printers will become increasingly necessary.
ITS plans to completely reinstate the new system, removing Pharos for good, when they “are confident that the issues with the new printing system will not occur.” It is laudable that they are keeping the trustworthy Pharos system running until they are sure the new system will work. Allington says that a B-Line notification will be sent out when this occurs, which will efficiently notify all students of the next change. Though ITS claims that printing traffic with the new system has been increasing, we have observed many students who are sticking to Pharos for as long as they can.
The bottom line is, no matter how trivial a part of student life it may seem, we need to print, and if the University purports to provide printing facilities, then it should be able to follow through and provide said services. Nonetheless, the response of ITS in the wake of a failing system has been prompt and helpful, down to the openness and cooperation of the department in communicating with students.