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Protest Pushes Up Fishbowl Schedule


David Tarin--The Tech
Protesters set up a homemade cluster in the location of the old Fishbowl early on Saturday morning.

By Douglas E. Heimburger
Associate News Editor

Amid threats of student protest, the Fishbowl Athena cluster closed one day ahead of schedule, said Brian T. Murphy, customer support services team leader for Information Systems.

The cluster, originally scheduled to be cleared Saturday morning for relocation to 12-182, instead shut down on Friday evening.

"There were some pretty strong rumors going around about a protest Saturday morning,"Murphy said. The team responsible for the move was concerned that the new cluster might not open on time if a disruption occurred. "We decided to get at least the hardware moved out on Friday night" to prevent such a disruption, he said.

The first floor of Building 11 is to be renovated to house the Student Services Center. The center is tentatively scheduled to open in August.

Students demonstrate in cluster

While the closure of the Fishbowl may have prevented a delay, it did not prevent a student protest. A group of students met in the empty Fishbowl cluster early Saturday morning to commemorate the cluster.

Students brought in their own computers in an attempt to recreate the Fishbowl. "Anyone who wanted to use them was welcome to come in and log in," said DanielP. Kamalic '99, who was affiliated with the group.

Many of the machines also contained pieces of equipment which had been discarded by the Institute. "These machines were machines that the administration threw away," he said.

The students were removed by Campus Police around 10 a.m. Saturday morning.

Some students affiliated with the group considered the event a protest against the closing of the cluster. "If they're going to make a big move, they should be doing something that will help students more than it will help the administration," Kamalic said. The Student Services Center is not the student body's biggest need, Kamalic added.

Others, however, considered the event to have a different meaning. "It was a show of support for the Fishbowl and Athena," said a student who was involved in the event. "We're going to miss the Fishbowl, and we wanted to keep it open just a little longer."

"It's important that students made their feelings known,"Murphy said. Despite the early removal of the machines, "they still had one last chance to make their dissatisfaction over the movement of the cluster known."

Bldg. 12 cluster imitates Fishbowl

Given that the cluster needed to be moved, attempts were made to capture some of the ambiance of the old Building 11 site. The new cluster that opened in Building 12 attempts to recreate many of the features of the old Fishbowl cluster, Murphy said.

"The intent was to make it like the Fishbowl because it's at least near the Infinite Corridor," Murphy said. The cluster can replace the old Fishbowl as a stop for tours on campus, he said.

The original Project Athena sign from the Fishbowl cluster was also relocated to the back of the new Building 12 cluster.

Students using the new cluster were for the most part impressed with the changes.

"It seems pretty nice," said Joshua J. Stults '99. "The Fishbowl was sort of a landmark, but this location is just as good or better."

The new cluster is nicer than the Fishbowl cluster, said Jeffrey L. Steinheider '99. "All of the facilities are new and the room has been freshly painted and carpeted."

While the Fishbowl cluster featured 29 machines, the new cluster has 25 machines, one of which is a Quickstation. The remaining machines, all of which were SunMicrosystems Sparcstation Classics, will become part of a new Quickstation cluster in the StudentServices Center, Murphy said.

OLC,Athena accountsto move

During the next few weeks, the remaining Information Systems teams will depart Building 11 to make way for the expansion of the Student Services Center.

Next week, Athena Online Consulting, Athena User Accounts, and the offices for the ResidentialComputer Consultants will move from their current location near the Fishbowl cluster to a new suite of offices in the basement of Building 4, said William T. Hogue, the director of the IS support team.

While the new location may not be as visible, it "represents the best match between the square footage needs of the team and the contiguous space that the Institute currently has available," Hogue said.

Walk-in traffic from students may decrease in the near term as a result of the change. Nonetheless, "walk-in traffic represents only a small fraction of the support provided by the Athena/RCC team; most of their support is provided online, via telephone, or in person,"Hogue said.