Switch to Apogee Wi-Fi brings more issues for on-campus internet connection

By Grace Hogsten

Elm Staff Writer

When Washington College first made announcements about plans to improve the Wi-Fi with the network provider Apogee Electronics, students wondered if this new development would bring an end to the saga of poor connection or serve only as a catalyst for more problems.

In a turn of events surprising to few WC students, many students encountered new problems while using the Apogee Wi-Fi. More specifically, students were unable to connect to sites like Self Service or the library databases while using the Apogee Wi-Fi in their dorms.

“When I tried to get on Self Service or the library sites, specifically the interlibrary loan website, it would say it was blocked and wouldn’t let me get on it. It would work when I was on my home Wi-Fi, so I realized it was an issue with the new internet,” junior Julia Inglesby said.

These weaknesses are egregious. Connection to Self Service is vital, especially during course registration season.

Access to the library catalog and online databases, such as JSTOR, is also necessary for students to complete their midterm projects.

As advised by the college, many students sought assistance from the Help Desk. Technical services can help students in a variety of ways, including repairing hardware, fixing software, managing changes to their WC accounts, giving advice on connecting devices to the new internet, and more.

However, since the college’s switch to Apogee, the Help Desk’s ability to address the root of many problems with the network is limited.

“We can only handle the issue up to the wireless aspect. After that, it’s up to the provider,” technician Eric Bishop said.

Although the Help Desk staff and the college’s technicians can take care of so many technological issues, the internet provider, Apogee, has control over some of the aspects that have been causing problems for students.

Apogee Electronics did not respond to emails about the situation.

            Student employees at the Help Desk have a unique perspective on this issue, since they experience the problems themselves and also help their peers find solutions.

            “The Help Desk asked why they didn’t hear about the Apogee change. The school said it didn’t think it would affect [them]. Because [WC] outsourced the Wi-Fi, we can’t help people with it. We can mostly send them to the Apogee customer support number,” student employee at the Help Desk senior Jayla Draghici said.

            One of WC’s major responsibilities in terms of the Wi-Fi is communicating updates and changes to the technical staff, which it failed to do. This shocking lack of foresight deprived Help Desk employees of information that could help them solve problems, and thus left students without solutions to these issues.

WC is responsible for choosing a network provider that will allow quick and effective solutions to problems. Unfortunately, outsourcing the Wi-Fi to Apogee does not seem to allow for quick fixes.

It is unacceptable for students to not have access to school-issued websites like Self Service and the library databases for weeks at a time. Students are frustrated – they have long been asking for improved internet connection and the school’s attempts to fix it appear only to be making it worse.

For example, a power outage occurred across campus on Sunday, Oct. 30. An email addressing this issue has yet to be set out, and this lack of communication leads to student confusion.

After encountering such a formidable obstacle in the first few weeks of the new networks, the students of WC are wary of what the future will bring. What other weaknesses in the network will soon become apparent, and how quickly will Apogee respond?

Photo by Mia Snyder

Photo Caption: Students complained about Wi-Fi issues on campus after WC made the official switch to Apogee Electronics, with many saying they could not connect to school sites like Self Service and the library databases.

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