By Ricky Hager
Since the return from spring break, students, faculty, and staff alike lamented the ongoing issues with Washington College’s Wi-Fi. Down to their last resort, a group of students took the initiative to address the College’s connectivity problems by bridging the worlds between campus and the beyond.
Connecting on campus is a perennial struggle for tech-inclined students. Many a Pokémon Go player finds their game buffering endlessly as they approach Goldstein Hall. Others fight for connectivity as they dive into the College’s online archives.
This past April 1, English department seniors watched in desperation as Canvas’s little blue circle endlessly approached completion, denoting the successful uploading of their senior capstones.
“It just sat there, staring at me, the ends refusing to touch. I thought my thesis just wouldn’t upload, that it’d splinter the Wi-Fi connection into millions of silver threads, ephemeral, delicate like spiderwebs, letting my final project slip into the fatal cavern of ‘Lateness,’” senior Brenda Stroker said.
While the Office of Internet Technology is aware of students’ most recent struggles with Wi-Fi connection, informing the campus that they were investigating the intermittent wireless outages by email on Wednesday, March 23, there have been no updates since Friday, March 25.
“It’s ridiculous. And I mean, I never would know if there was another update because they keep informing us by email and I hardly have enough connection to open Outlook,” sophomore Clarence Barker said.
In their growing frustration, Stroker, Barker, and fellow senior Stephon Queen decided to take matters into their own hands, citing their expertise in creating connections across seemingly impossible boundaries.
“The three of us have known each other for years, like centuries basically. We’ve really centered our lives’ work around breaking down boundaries and connecting communities. We’ve done some volunteer work as students to build up those bridges between WC and Chestertown. [Barker] spent the summer abroad in Cuba too, which was a huge connection for him since he finally got to explore his family’s heritage,” Stroker said. “And last summer we finally connected with the Groveling God in the basement of Middle Hall, super sweet once you know it.”
Setting up their spirit bridge in the Sophie Kerr Room in Clifton Miller Library, Queen began the process with the meditative lighting of black, vanilla-spice-scented Yankee candles. In the flickering blue flames, the shadows seemed deeper, an inky blackness that danced across the floor, forming long, spiraling tendrils.
Stroker taking point, Barker joining her at her left hand, and Queen positioned to her right, the three formed a kneeling semi-circle on the floor and began reciting the sprawling password from the bottom of the Wi-Fi router.
Barker stood with a slow grace; letting his head hang, he began to sing the string of numbers of letters, letting them flow from his tongue like a twisting language only he could comprehend. The air vibrated with the sound of their voices, forming an atonal chord that cuts through the mind and soul and world, thrusting themselves beneath the threads of the universe and uprooting the stitches with a determined flick.
The flames turned a sickly green, thick globules of melted wax falling to the altar, and the lights tripled in the shifting pools of candle corpses.
As the candle collapsed in on itself, it all
Checking her phone, Stroker said, “Yup, Outlook loads. We should be good to go.”
How well their new connection will withstand is yet to be seen. Barker said these bridges are very fragile, and while they are confident in their work, there is always the risk of collapse.
“Anything to help out other students,” Queen said, running their third hand through their hair thoughtfully. “This year has been hard enough between [COVID-19] and readjusting to in-person classes. If we can make life a little easier, that’s a bonus.”
Photo by Ricky Hager
Featured Photo Caption: The Eldritch terror fixing the Wi-Fi. Unfortunately, they could not be seen by human eyes or captured on camera.