A group of UCSB students is petitioning to have AkooTV — the private network that supplies the content for televisions in Nicoletti’s Café and the UCen lounge areas — removed from the building on the grounds that the programs are disruptive to students.
Fourth-year film and media studies major Ryan Ealum and third-year literature major Navid Ebrahimzadeh drafted the petition on May 15 after a consultation with UCen Director Gary Lawrence. Akoo technology features music videos, trivia games and messages that students can send in from their phones.
Ebrahimzadeh said the televisions, which assess the level of ambient noise in the surrounding area and adjust the volume accordingly, do not comply with the university’s educational charge and the UCen’s mission statement, as they disturb the quiet environment.
“Whether or not the UCen was designed for studying, people want to study there,” Ebrahimzadeh said. “Some people do not like complete silence; they like to have a little bit of noise, like some music coming from the café or some people talking.”
First-year musicology graduate student Emma Levine said AkooTV’s volume is a disturbance that alters her ability to communicate effectively with students.
“I am a TA, so sometimes I will hold office hours here and the noise can be distracting,” Levine said. “I think the petition is a good idea, because without the TVs it would be a lot easier to sit here and study and read, and I think that then more people would get more work done.”
According to Ebrahimzadeh, the effort attracted attention from various members of Associated Students in January after he voiced his concerns in a “Letter to the Editor” submitted to the Daily Nexus.
Ealum said another complaint the petition presents is that AkooTVs only use music from four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI.
“We are not against media in the UCen,” Ealum said. “We are just against [the type of media Akoo promotes]. Why can’t we have screenings promoting student events or featuring reminders for stuff relating to students, like deadlines and other important information? There are so many great things we could do with those TV screens. Akoo does not care about students.”
Second-year biology major Tim Bautista, a Nicoletti’s employee, said AkooTVs are more a source of entertainment to him than an irritation.
“Sometimes I get annoyed with the TV, but a lot of the music they play is music I like,” Bautista said. “The Akoo lets you request songs, and even the songs I don’t request are usually songs I like to hear.”
Similarly, third-year environmental studies major and Nicoletti’s employee Yvonne Bautista said the noise level does not bother her on the job.
“I feel like the UCen is more of a lounge area,” Bautista said. “If people want to study they can just go to the library. Even if the TV is annoying, people still come here and study, so I do not think the noise is a huge factor. If anything, it is just a minor annoyance.”
UCen Dining Services Director Sue Hawkins said she has not noticed a significant amount of people appealing for the TVs’ elimination.
“For every student who dislikes the music TVs in the UCen, there are students who use them and like them,” Hawkins said.