Tuesday morning at 10:38, three classrooms in West Hall reported stolen overhead projectors.
The department most affected by the technological setback was the Modern and Classical Languages (MCL), whose classes are centered near that part of the first floor of West Hall.
“Our first four classes, especially, we shuffled around, and moved as many of those classes into our lab [room 140] as we possibly could,” Dr. Viki Soady, department chair for MCL, said.
West Hall classrooms 147, 153 and 154 had their projectors delicately removed from the mounts in the ceilings sometime between the last classes of the evening and the following morning.
“[T]he thieves have gotten good enough to where they know what tools to bring to take them down,” Brian Anderson, Computer Services coordinator for IT, said.
The only damage to the ceiling mounts was a cable easily removed during inspection by the VSU police department and IT.
Students and teachers had to find alternate methods to proceed with the usual class.
“Now, for most professors—history, philosophy, even English—that would be really easy to do, but our [MCL] classes are highly interactive,” Dr. Soady said. “First thing the professor does is turn on the online exercises for that day, or put up a PowerPoint with sound that students are going to be reacting to. So, the general impression is everyone just saying, ‘Oh my God! It’s back to pencil and paper!’”
Students in the MCL department are often provided with both a digital and physical copy of their textbook.
As such, professors are able to pull up the textbook through the overhead projector, allowing students to stop relying on their loose-leaf or hardback textbooks during class.
“So, unless they actually had their laptops with them—something that we actually discourage because you don’t always know they’re reading the chapter—it really seriously affects our ability to instruct in the space-age manner in which the students have become used to in our department,” Dr. Soady said.
Teachers may have been setback Tuesday, but IT is working to setup the classrooms in West Hall with projectors they can use for the remaining couple of weeks.
In the meantime, IT is looking into installing alarm systems that will be hooked into every projector, but the process is slow.
“We’ve got to take them down, put the alarms on them, let the glue cure and put them back up,” Anderson said. “And with classes going on during the day, it’s just not feasible for us to do that. We’re 100-percent in the University Center and 100-percent in Nevins Hall, and we’ve moved into West Hall. We don’t put any projectors out now that do not have an alarm on them.”
The alarm system currently plugs in with a simple telephone jack, and when unhooked sets off an alarm with a 130-decibel pitch.
Anderson compares the system to the alarm hooked into cameras and other displayed products in electronic stores.
The alarm will sound for 18 hours straight, and hooking the jack back into the projector will not stop the alarm.
“We’ve got one projector that we’ve had almost for a year that is just in Powell Hall,” Anderson said. “It’s just sitting out in the open with this alarm on it, with this warning on it with what’s gonna’ happen if you unplug it […] it’s easy to get to, but no one has bothered to take it because it’s just too much trouble.”
Two of the stolen projectors were set to be replaced the following year—with each classroom projector only in use for three to four years.
Each projector that is taken out of classroom-use is given to Media Services to be checked out by the students.
The stolen projectors will cost $1200 each to replace.
According to those present during the investigation, there was no forced entry.
During IT’s sweep of West Hall, Anderson noticed that all but three classrooms were unlocked.
Investigations are still underway to find the perpetrators and the stolen property.