First of all, before I start this Flog, I would like to say that there are many great things about the Thomas J. Watson, Sr., Center for Information Technology. I am grateful that the University has provided such an institution, that the CS department that the CIT represents is so excellent, and that both the equipment and the
inhabitants people are great. However, some things about the building itself just don’t make sense…
First of all, the Sunlab is a misnomer in two senses. First, and most obviously, there is no sun in the Sunlab, which is somewhat depressing for those of us who
live work there. Second, the Sunlab was named after Sun Microsystems, because all of the computers in the Sunlab are built by Sun Microsystems. Err, were—those computers were replaced. Also, this upcoming January will be the fourth anniversary of Sun Microsystems’ acquisition by Oracle. Meaning that the namesake of the lab hasn’t existed for approximately four years. I guess it’s a nice historical thing?
But more perturbing than the misleading name is the spacing between the rows of computers—or rather, the lack thereof. The architect of the current incarnation of the Sunlab either thought it would be a great idea for students to squash their guts between the chair and the desk whenever someone needs to use the bathroom, or was a particularly undernourished elf. I feel like Tyler Durden every time I have to use a non-aisle workstation.
Except Brad Pitt didn’t literally have to rub his ass against a wall, or worse, against another student’s back through the thin material of the chair backs.
One last awkward thing about the Sunlab, besides some of the students therein, is the spacing of the steps down the aisle. The stairs reduce even the most graceful human being’s gait to that of a crippled antelope.
Getting between floors
There’s a perfectly good set of stairs that leads to the second floor right when you enter the CIT. Many a CIT novice, enticed by a seemingly simple way to access the upper levels of the building, have been dismayed to discover that after 5 p.m., the glass doors at the top of these stairs are locked (for security reasons). After the walk of shame back down the stairs and through the lobby, these poor young students fall into even greater despair upon realizing that the elevators will never, in fact, return from the fifth floor. Desperate to get to TA office hours, they brave the journey into the labyrinthine bowels of the CIT in the hopeless hope of reaching a stairwell, never to be heard from again. Their untimely and unnecessary demise is made even more lamentable by the fact that, unbeknownst to them, the stairs they sought are also locked after a certain hour.
I see why the elevators had to be so big and slow back in the days of yore when computers used to outweigh cars, but JWW also has five floors and was originally dedicated two decades before the CIT, and its elevators are second only to Willy Wonka’s. Maybe somebody was trying to force some extra exercise on CS students?
The silver lining is that all of these things give the CIT some interesting character, although I think most would prefer sense to character on this one. In any case, it makes the voyage to the infamous building a fairly intense experience. And never has there been a better place than outside the CIT to invoke our school’s motto: “In Deo Speramus.”