An Open Letter to SSU

SSU's Police State Library Policies

A police state mentality.
A police state mentality.

Dear SSU,

An Open Letter to SSU

Dear SSU,

Your recent decision to lock out the general public from the computers located in the SSU Library is a deterrent to the betterment of the very taxpayers that support your continued operation. California’s taxpayers recently went out of their way by approving Governor Brown’s tax initiative to assume yet more tax burden upon them to fund the SSUSchool and those very same computers whose use you have deprived them of.

As a non-student former SSU library patron that is now no longer allowed access to the SSU library computers, I have had the opportunity to observe the SSU library before, during and after this transition to requiring a password that only students and faculty may acquire for use of said computers.

Since electronic media are basically the new books of today, this new policy of only permitting students and faculty computer access would seem to go against SSU Library’s stated values; which claim that they are dedicated to “the lifelong pursuit of knowledge and creativity of their community.” (I note that this statement has been modified from the former use of the word “public.”)

SSU Library’s stated values go on to state that the SSU Library “…responds to change through flexibility” and that the SSU Library “…strive(s) to ensure a climate of openness.”

It’s not as if the public was abusing its former unrestricted computer access privileges. As one who frequented the SSU library before, during and after this changeover, I am a witness that the many banks of library computers were underutilized. They would far more often than not, sit vacant and idling.

I happened to be in attendance when the SSU Library Techs began the arduous process of making the duel boot Macs even function with a password. I overheard the head tech exclaim when confronted by a confused underling, “I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.”

Judging by the continued availability of the SSU library’s computers to me for several months thereafter, I imagine that the process took some little time. No expense was obviously spared in man hours to accomplish this goal of restricting the taxpaying public from the computers that they sponsored. During the many hours over a two year period that I used the SSU Library computers, there appeared to be very few outsiders, let alone students, using the two full floors of computers at the SSU Library.

Indeed, the somewhat isolated nature of the library’s location relative to population centers in Rohnert Park, Cotati and the surrounding area would appear to preclude large numbers of non-students disrupting any student access to the many computers there.

To get to the library, one drives through a somewhat ponderous and circuitous main entrance. If one doesn’t have a car, then they take the bus, which drops them off there at the main entrance, where they then must make not a short walk to the library.

This journey of itself will discourage many, being a somewhat lazy and car-centric society that we now live in. So by limiting computer access, SSU has in one stroke, discouraged much needed both mental and physical exercise.

As one who often had a ringside view of the under use of their two full floors of computer systems, all of this effort in locking out their dedicated taxpaying public supporters in effect, goes towards discouraging 5-10 non students maximum a day from their use.

SSU has made its library a cold and desolate place with a miserable (emphasis on MISER) atmosphere. SSU has usurped the joy of a shared learning and research experience with a police state mentality. Thus reinforcing the growing educational and socio-economical divide between the; haves and the have-nots and the one to the ninety-nine percent.

To illustrate the above, I was in the library on the second floor, where I had been working at a table upon an article when a medium height, heavy set gentlemen in perhaps his late thirties or forties, with a black beard, emerged from the adjacent Room 2051, whose door was labeled “Interlibrary Loan.

He used a nearby computer for a short time which he abruptly left. After a while, I noticed the computer was left running and apparently abandoned unused while not secured with a password.

Out of habit I suppose, I started to use it. Then all of a sudden, he came back rushing upon me and demanded to know if I was a student in the harshest of manners without so much as a hello or an introduction!

He stated that he “intentionally left the computer unlocked, just to see what I would do! I said that that was entrapment. He said, “Not really.”

If I had been thinking properly I suppose that I should have demanded his name and title and by what right he was interrogating me. But I didn’t. I admitted that I wasn’t a student. He then threatened me in the most severe manner that if he ever so much as saw me using a computer there again that he would call the police upon me.

So I went back to the table where I was sitting earlier and continued to work for a short time. But having been so shaken by the experience I could no longer continue to concentrate.

I finally realized that I don’t really need to use the SSU Library after all. My mobile device is pretty good and I can augment that with the modest access allowed at the public library in conjunction with the neat new memory sticks that technology has blessed us with.

Still, I will miss the three nice ducks that I was able to share some tortillas with that morning at the front entrance to the library, where the desolation of the of unused computers is echoed by the removal of all but a few of the many outdoor chairs that once beckoned visitors to enjoy the attractive architecture and landscaping. I do hope that they will get enough to eat during the slow spring/summer session when virtually NO ONE is at the SSU Library or even on the school grounds for that matter.

As one who grew up with the Peanuts comic strip, I feel that I have an inherited right to speak for the legendary author thereof, the late Mr. Charles Schultz. For I recall the magnificent rainbow that graced the skies of Santa Rosa the day of his funeral. I remember thinking that it could in no way be a coincidence. But could only be an affirmation of as the saying goes, “well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

In that I imagine that if he were alive today to see what elitist policies are practiced at the institution which was in no small part funded by him, that he would have cause to regret having his good name associated with a library that excludes the staunchest of Peanuts fans, instead greeting them with a foreboding password message.

If the SSU library’s goal was to befuddle and discourage curious library goers from exploring the vast educational and financial opportunities afforded by the Internet, they have succeeded admirably.

In conclusion, I would suggest that SSU remove all of the cutesy Peanuts paraphernalia from its inside and outside décor, which is no longer in sync with their newer, harsher attitude.

I’m sure that there must be some excellent buys to be had from the many former members of the Soviet Union on some Joseph Stalin statuary and other more appropriate images for the new, meaner SSU.

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