Faulty wireless Internet access limits academic abilities at F&M

BY SARA BLANK ’14
Opinion & Editorial Editor

It’s really getting tiresome that using the Internet anywhere on campus is akin to praying for the miracle of Hanukkah. Can’t you see a wise old rabbi recounting the story? “There was only enough WiFi for one student, but somehow it lasted for all eight students in the classroom!” It really should not be like this.

I know the IT department is an incredibly hard working group of individuals and I am in no way blaming any one person for the poor Internet at F&M; however, it’s becoming very exhausting to have such difficulties gaining Internet access all across this campus. Living in the College Houses, Internet was consistent only in its inconsistencies, constantly shutting off and being spotty. In College Row or James Street housing, Internet access is entirely unattainable without an Ethernet cable and, even then, it’s all a gamble. This basically limits Internet to only one person in any given room and, in a day and age that relies so heavily on the Internet, this is entirely unacceptable.

Students need to access eDisk, BlackBoard, and any number of journal databases for class each day and the inability to access the Internet means the inability to do our homework or research papers. Meanwhile, students who prefer to do homework from the comfort of their bedrooms or apartments barely have sufficient Internet to gain access to these important sites.

Now, I’m no computer whiz, but I’m led to believe that while FandM-WiFi may have the ability to handle thousands of student and campus computers, an addition of thousands of smart phones and thousands of iPads tends to slow down the system. However, in the modern day, the Internet of our campus needs to have the capacity to support all these separate devices — at the same time! Not only is it important that we all have access to the Internet, but we need to not be in situations where we’re battling one another for shared Internet access or for the usage of an Ethernet cable.

This is not a matter of impatience. Slow Internet is still more acceptable than no Internet (thus smart phones resorting to 3G usage rather than FandM-WiFi usage), but the WiFi simply does not work. It’s getting to the point where if a student is not in the library or College Center, there is no hope to gain Internet access from FandM-WiFi. But College Row and the College Houses are blatantly considered campus housing and promise wireless Internet access. In some common rooms, there’s decent Internet, but for the most part, this is not the case.

It’s really time for whoever is in charge of Internet at F&M to do something about this. Like I said, I’m not placing blame on any individual, but if professors place such an emphasis on Internet for our research and daily homework, then using sufficient Internet should not be such a gamble. As we move forward, I hope this problem is solved before I graduate.

If things progress for much longer, I fear for the direction the school will head in. Will we need to start having covert under-the-bleachers meetings where we trade Internet for currency of some nature? Will roommates start duking it out to see who gets to use the Internet at any given time? Will people begin going stir crazy while waiting for the spinny wheel of death to load an actual website? Will Hunger Games-esque battles break out where people from each College House are sent to fight one another and the winner gains Internet access for their House for a year?

Obviously, I am joking. But it really is ridiculous that as students at an institution that so heavily relies upon and underscores Internet usage that we are unable to access this tool in so many instances. We are incredibly fortunate to be in the place we are in the time period we are, and it seems rather unjust that our limitations from the Internet keep us from using such a vast and important instrument. I’m not naïve: obviously, people use the Internet for things other than work, but in the grand scheme of things, if we are promised wireless Internet access, it should not be unattainable.

Internet in the world we live in is extremely important, especially in a society where our daily lives accent its necessity so much. I hope in the future, as we continue to place such heavy importance on Internet here at F&M, this will not be a problem the student body will be forced to deal with much longer.

Questions? Email Sara at sblank@fandm.edu.

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