Library community computers downsized after incidents

Computer issues—The Helen Miller Bailey library has dozens of computers for students, but two of the three community computers will vanish in January. CN/ Ivan Cazares

By Ivan Cazares

East Los Angeles College’s Helen Miller Bailey library will offer access to fewer community computers starting January than it currently offers. 

Three computers designated as community computers are primarily for non-students to research classes before enrolling. 

Choonhee Rhim, library chair,  said library staff were lenient with its policy for years, but some non-students take advantage of the resource prompting the change in policy. 

“We aren’t required to offer community computers by the district, but we’ve had them for years and have been very lenient with community users, because we want to expose them to the college and hope they could be prospective students,” Rhim said. 

“Some people stay all day and come back day after day. We’ve also had some people be very disruptive or refuse to leave when asked to.” 

Rhim said feedback from students suggests there aren’t enough computers in the library and added that non-students abusing the community computers contributes to these complaints. 

Community members could ask to be signed in to one of the community computers and are allotted one hour to use it. 

Starting in January,  the three community computers will be converted to student and staff computers, and a single community computer will be set up by the front desk. 

This is meant to discourage abuse of the resource but continue to provide prospective students with access to an internet connection on campus. 

Campus News learned about the change in policy when Kenny Sakamoto, a non-student, who lives in the community of Monterey Park said he and other non-students have been kicked off campus by Sheriff deputies without just cause. 

Jean Stapleton, Campus News adviser, also received threatening phone calls from Elizabeth Valenzuela, a non-student who has been officially banned from campus, because she refused to leave after being asked to by library staff. 

Valenzuela said she would organize a protest to shut down the school if Campus News didn’t disclose the issue, despite its lack of influence over official school policy. 

“Kenny, the person who talked to you, hasn’t been banned. None of the situations have turned violent, but we know one person has been banned,” Gina Chelstrom, associate dean, said. 

ELAC is a public campus, but officials have the authority to have people removed from campus if they pose a threat to the community or disrupt college activities and classes. 

“I think we’re very welcoming to the community, but under law we have the right to kick people off campus if they are being disruptive in any sort of way,” Ruben Arenas, vice president of student services said. 

“Under penal code, we can issue a ban either seven or 14 days. Basically we notify the person, we might know their names, we might not, but we explain why they are being asked to leave, and that they may return in seven to 14 days depending on the ban we issue.” 

“We usually provide guidance, because we want them to be visitors. This is generally a public campus and we don’t like issuing bans, but if they become disruptive, we will,” he said. 

Sakamoto said there are some non-students that are disruptive, but expressed disappointment with the blanket decision which will affect those who rely on the resource and don’t abuse it. 

“They’ve called the Sheriff’s on a few of us, and some of them are good, but most don’t try to get to know the community and find out who really should be kicked out,” Sakamoto said.  

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