Western student Anna Zuck carefully slides her negative, which is sandwiched between a large glass negative carrier, into a UV bed to expose the image. Photo by Joe Rudko/The AS Review

Kirsten O'Brien/The AS Review

For fine arts studio major Anna Zuck, the Academic Technology and User Services office has become a second home.

“The ATUS knows me very well,” Zuck said. “We joke about how often I come in.”

Zuck is in the midst of creating a series of photographs, using a process called cyanotype that she plans to enter in a student show in the art department at the end of the quarter. She relies heavily on the Canon 5D cameras available for checkout at the ATUS office because they provide the huge high-quality negatives that are an integral part of the cyanotype process.

In addition, she uses the Epson large format printer in the art department to print negatives of her photos, which measure 20 inches by 30 inches. The printer is highly sophisticated and can print on film, glossy paper and even the canvas that Zuck is using for her images.

Zuck peers through her large scale negative before printing. Photo by Joe Rudko/The AS Review

The equipment Zuck needs for her work is expensive, and her project would not be possible without ATUS, which is funded by the Student Technology Fee.

Since 1996, the Student Technology Fee has provided over $9 million dollars worth of equipment and technology that directly impacts student learning at Western. The fee has made it possible for students like Zuck to have access to sophisticated equipment that they wouldn’t have otherwise.

The fee also reserves funds for student and staff technology proposals regarding how to spend the funds. For the 2010 – 2011 academic year, there is $245,000 available to spend on student and staff proposals. Members of the Student Technology Fee Committee are asking for input about the 14 project proposals that have been submitted. The project proposals are posted online on the STF website at www.wwu.edu/stf, and individuals are encouraged to write letters supporting specific proposals to the STF Committee by March 1.

Garth Amundson, an associate professor in the art department, co-authored a proposal for digital video equipment with Multimedia Video Services manager Robert Clark. Their proposal requests more high-quality Canon 5D cameras like those used by Zuck, as well as digital back mounts for the 4-by-5-inch large format cameras used by photography students.

Amundson said that although students in the art department would benefit the most from the new cameras, students of all majors would be able to utilize the equipment.

“We have been very lucky in securing cameras, printers and computers with past awards. It is money that goes right back to the students in terms of access,” Amundson said in an e-mail. “We have hundreds of students who use the printers and other equipment that we have secured through the STF program.”

Anna Zucks' large cyanotype print "Inheritance," part of a larger body of work focusing on inner-family relationships.

John Farquhar, manager of Multimedia and Web Development services, stressed the importance of the fee, and its impact on Western students. He said that the fee funds everything from upgrades to the campus wireless network to providing specialized equipment to students in specific departments.

“Like most other universities, that STF is how Western provides technology access to the students,” he said. “The fee is critical.”

Gary Malick, a multimedia maintenance technician with ATUS, said the fee plays a crucial role in providing students with the latest technology. He said the fee was critical in overhauling Western’s VHS camera equipment several years ago. The fee allowed him to buy 15 digital video cameras, along with tripods, wireless microphones and light kits, which are popular among students taking film classes.  He was also able to purchase five high-end tapeless cameras, which are popular among Fairhaven students and dance majors.

Western students pay $25 every quarter for the STF program, and Malick said that students should take advantage of the opportunity to decide what the money is spent on.
“Students are paying into this fee, and they should know about the tools available for them to use,” he said.

For students like Zuck, the fee has made her very personal photo project a reality. When it is completed, she will have six large cyanotype prints, each featuring a portrait of herself with a family member. She said her idea is to depict how she relates to each person in her family.

“I could not afford to purchase the type of high-end camera I need, and I probably would have had to take time off to work and save up to buy the kind of gear the ATUS offers,” she said. “The day I stop using the cameras is the day they finally force me to graduate.”