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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The DAC-LAB fosters multimedia innovation and student inclusivity

Anthony Zell
Abril Orozco glances over from their desk in the DAC Lab on March 21 at City College campus in Santa Barbara, Calif. “I see myself as an intermediary, where I help faculty… and connect with the students and see what they need” Orozco said.

Hidden at the lowest level of the Administration building on the City College campus is a multimedia space available to all students. With specialized tutors and high-end technology, the department specializes in film production, graphic design, multimedia arts, technology, and journalism. 

The Digital Arts Center, or DAC-LAB, is a multi-space lab that fosters City College’s most technologically inclined students. But unfortunately, there isn’t as much recognition as there should be. 

“[A lot of] people don’t know we exist,” Alejandra Jarabo, chair of the multimedia department, said. She’s hoping to increase their publicity, “You don’t see our work anywhere. So people don’t know that we exist. If you look from the outside, we’re no different than Health & Technologies above us or any other classroom. So we really don’t look like an art program.”

Various other factors have come into play over the past few years that have inhibited the lab’s ability to reach students, including the pandemic and recent budgetary issues.  

“The lab was empty for two years,” Jarabo said. “When the pandemic started, we had to completely close our facilities, but our students needed high-end computers to work on [and] deliver their work, so we began loaning out the machines.”

City College’s budget crisis has affected every department, but the DAC-LAB’s high-end technology requires a different level of financial stability. 

“We’re still remodeling the space so it feels more human since we’re working with computers,” Jarabo said. “But at a certain point, if they put a cap on us, we cannot grow. And if we cannot grow, then we’re not going to get out of the crisis.” 

As a teaching institution, the goal is simply just to teach. However, with the budget cuts, limitations that impact educational growth are being put on teachers and students. 

An empty lab demanded a new presence to get it up and running again. 

Abril Orozco, is DAC-LAB teaching assistant (LTA). Orozco, who identifies with pronouns they/them, is currently the youngest LTA at City College. 

“I do a little bit of everything,” Orozco said. “Coming in from the outside, I’m able to take a step back and see what I think this lab needs, then work on implementing that with how we can make it run most efficiently.” 

Jarabo reflected on how the lab has needed an LTA for a very long time, but since the facility is technology-specialized, there’s never been one until now. 

“High school students are jumping to four-year colleges that are incredibly expensive, but what they don’t know is that their skills are far more developed here,” Jarabo said. “We give more support to students. We understand the industry, where to direct students, and what career paths they can take.” 

Orzoco works with local high schools to arrange educational events that shed more light on the lab. But that’s only the beginning of how they contribute. Orozco handles any projects that the department hasn’t had time for, such as administrative work, tutoring help, and bringing in new perspectives. 

For only the past six months, Orozco has embodied what it means to be an LTA. Their passion for working with students is imminent and something the lab has lacked.  

“Our lack of social media and publicity is really hindering,” Orozco said. “We have some fantastic lab aides who are creating banners for the doorway. Also, we’re hoping to start tabling outside of the library and create that social media presence soon.” 

The goals for the DAC-LAB are constantly growing, but simple in their core: Educate students on how the space benefits them, create stronger publicity, and especially welcome students of all backgrounds and majors. 

The world of technology is dramatically changing, and staff members like Orozco are creating a workspace that cultivates inclusivity. 

“I really want this to be a space where students feel comfortable working,” Orozco said. “This is an interdisciplinary space with specialized tutors that are here to help. We are a great resource for everyone.” 

If you are looking to engage in film editing, animation, graphic design, photoshop, photojournalism, and countless other classes. You can find the DAC-LAB on the lowest level of the A building, directly across from Student Services. 

It’s open to all students hoping to begin, grow, or master their learning. Open Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Expert tutors, high-end technology, and encouraging teachers are there to help.

Correction: April 5, 2024
An earlier version of this story stated Abril Orozco as faculty. Orozco is a staff member, not faculty. 

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