SARAH CORNELL-MAIER; News Editor; firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the beginning of the academic year, Pacific Lutheran University students have been experiencing issues with the school Wi-Fi. Students have voiced frustrations about losing access to the PLU-provided service, resulting in these students having to travel in order to use the internet.
Wi-Fi access is essential for students who live on campus in order for them to complete their work. Connection problems are occurring with both laptop computers and phones—the only way to guarantee internet is having a computer connected directly to the internet with an ethernet cord.
According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 10 percent of college students fit the parameters for clinical dependence on the internet. Modern college students are reliant on the internet in order to work on assignments and even take online classes. According to a Pew Internet Project survey, 92 of undergraduate students use wireless internet frequently, so it is understandable that students may be concerned about their Wi-Fi being reliable.
Senior Biology major Ashley Farre has been experiencing connection issues with the Wi-Fi for the entirety of the Fall semester. A returning resident of South Hall, Farre said she has never had issues with connecting to the Wi-Fi until this year.
“I swear the internet in South was better last year,” said Farre. “Loading times are pretty slow, and sometimes the Wi-Fi just… disconnects for no reason.”
Farre said this connection issue has had a direct impact on her schoolwork.
“Once while I was taking an online exam, a question just sat there loading for like two minutes,” Farre said. “I did have to manually disconnect and reconnect to get Sakai working again. When I re-entered the test, five minutes of my time were just gone.”
Thankfully, Farre’s professor gave the class enough time to complete the test, and Farre was able to answer every question within the time limit.
However, with the threat of losing work or time on tests, students like Farre find trustworthy connection to the PLU Wi-Fi as necessary.
Junior Mena Heinl has also experienced problems connecting to the PLU Wi-Fi with both her computer and cell phone.
“I don’t think I have unlimited data,” said Heinl. “I’ve been having to restart my phone and log in to the Wi-Fi every time I want to use it, otherwise it won’t connect.”
David Allen, the Director for Enterprise Systems at the PLU Information and Technology Services department, said that residence halls are currently on an overhaul program for their wireless internet.
“We are in the process of a multi-year wireless upgrade in the residence halls and are repurposing some of the equipment removed from the residence halls to augment and expand service elsewhere on campus,” Allen said. Halls that have been upgraded for Wi-Fi connectivity are Tingelstad, Pflueger, Harstad, Kreidler and Ordal. South Hall has yet to be upgraded. According to Allen, there are steps being taken to improve the connection across campus, including the installation of new Wireless Access Points (WAPs).
“In the past we could cover two to three classrooms with a WAP located in a common hallway. However, due to the increasing number of devices, we now need no less than one WAP in each classroom, with some larger lecture halls having multiple,” said Allen. “Luckily, our network equipment manufacturer recently introduced a new model WAP that allows us to install a smaller, and lower cost WAP into roughly every other residence hall room, significantly improving wireless performance without the undue cost or oversized equipment.”
Some students have taken their Wi-Fi connection into their own hands, purchasing ethernet cables to connect directly to the campus internet.
With short ethernet cables costing around $6 on Amazon, Allen suggested that for the time being, making an investment in a cord would be a practical and effective solution to anyone’s connectivity problems. For anyone who may not have the fiscal ability to obtain their own ethernet cable, Allen suggested contacting the Help Desk to find a possible solution.
The most important thing for students to remember, said Allen, is to report issues when they come up.
“We can’t help resolve the issues [or] improve coverage in locations or for people who don’t let us know there is an issue,” Allan said.