By Sophie Foster
Washington College is working to address the ongoing instability in the campus Wi-Fi that has caused difficulties in accessing websites and services, including Canvas, Self-Service, and Zoom.
The College switched to the ClearPass Wi-Fi service in 2016 to increase efficiency, according to previous Elm coverage. As of 2022, the Office of Information Technology is still trying to remedy the slow Internet speeds that posed a problem when this service was first introduced.
This academic year, OIT began the process of updating the campus’ wireless access points. As a result, even beyond unplanned inconsistencies in the Wi-Fi, scheduled wireless outages for maintenance took place this semester, all of which were communicated to students and faculty through emailed updates.
Also outlined in emailed updates from OIT are notices of unintended intermittent outages, both those tracked directly by OIT and those reported by students and faculty.
According to an April 6 email from Executive Director of OIT Regina Elliott, while the process of switching out older wireless access points for newer versions is underway, older iterations do not interact well with their new replacements.
Until every access point has been switched to the new version, there will be challenges posed by the interaction between the updated access points and the older access points.
In February, the College was granted funding to finish this wireless upgrade project, but they will not receive new wireless access points until June due to a supply chain crisis, according to Elliott.
“We are also in the process of reassessing our wireless across campus and developing a plan to add additional infrastructure to fill the gaps in our wireless coverage and to provide outdoor wireless in common areas,” Elliott said. “We are committed to improving the Wi-Fi on campus for our students to ensure a successful learning experience.”
Until then, however, there will continue to be inefficiencies in the Wi-Fi, and students at every stage of their WC journey expressed frustrations regarding the difficulty this poses.
“I feel like this is an issue that could have been resolved quicker than it was,” sophomore Carly Townsend said. “We are paying so much money yet still we have these problems… it’s really annoying to not know where the money is going.”
Similar concern about the cost of WC attendance when crucial services are so often unreliable is a common thread in student dialogue regarding the ongoing Wi-Fi issues, junior Amara Sorosiak said, identifying detrimental impact to work ethic as another side effect of Wi-Fi inadequacies.
“If the Wi-Fi’s slow or not working, I’ll end up getting distracted… using data on my phone and getting less schoolwork [and] paid work done overall,” Sorosiak said.
Townsend also identified moved deadlines as an issue arisen from the unstable Wi-Fi, which come with the added conflict of delaying coursework plans outlined in the syllabus.
Senior Julia Clifton has “very little hope that it will be fixed before [she] graduates, but [she hopes] they fix it or at least are more transparent about what is happening for future students.”
Students who share this desire for transparency or frustration with inconveniences can report issues by submitting a ticket to the Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org. OIT will send emails with relevant updates as they occur.