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Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Wi-Fi updates to take place in campus dorms


Students living in Cougar Place, Cougar Village II and Moody Towers can expect faster Internet in the Spring semester, according to an email from University Information Technology.

According to the email, Wi-Fi in the dorms will undergo upgrades that involve moving the access points that are in hallway lobbies into the living rooms of each suite.

For Cougar Village ii resident and biotechnology freshman Samantha Chambers, this upgrade couldn’t come soon enough.

“The very first week of school, I started panicking because I had a lot of stuff due and the Wi-Fi was out,” Chambers said. “I did not know what to do, so I ended up going to the library. It’s gotten better the past couple of weeks, but there are random days when it’ll just shut off completely.”

Executive Director of Technology Services and Support David Johnson said UIT is responding to student needs that were gathered from Twitter, Facebook and tickets from the tech desk.

“Student’s complaining about lack of Wi-Fi is definitely a factor,” Johnson said. “We recognized that we were not providing sufficient Wi-Fi for the current demand.”

Architecture freshman Michael Lindemann said  he usually uses an Ethernet cord to connect directly to the Internet, but he can’t do the same for his smartphone.

“It has been teetering off (since the beginning of the semester), especially on weekends when we don’t have class and everybody is on Netflix,” Lindemann said. “I’m usually hardwired in, so it’s not that much of an issue, but sometimes it’ll just drop on my phone, so it’s kind of a problem.”

Johnson said Cougar Place and Cougar Village II were designed under the assumption of different technological demands, demands that have since exploded. Now students have printers, scanners, smartphones and multiple gaming systems that all run off Wi-Fi.

“We knew two years ago that this could be a problem,” Johnson said. “We recognized that (we needed stronger Internet) when the buildings were going up. We tried to change the design at the time, we tried to say, ‘Let’s upgrade this,’ but it was too late in the construction process, and we knew it would take additional budget so we had to plan out.”

UIT’s budget is not applicable to residential housing, which is a University auxiliary service. Executive Director of Student Housing and Residential Life Don Yackley said that because on-campus housing is self-funded and an auxiliary service, financial decisions directly impact students’ room rates.

“Every decision we make related to making changes to student housing are taken very seriously,” Yackley said. “When making decisions, there are really three questions we ask. One: will the change positively impact health and safety? Two: will the change positively impact student success? And three: will the change positively impact community and service to students?”

The construction was originally scheduled to begin the week of Oct. 27, and it will continue until the start of the spring semester. Johnson said that they’re striving to make the construction process as painless as possible and will be working around students’ daily schedules.

“We’ve been asked to save the loud work until after 9 or 10 a.m.,” Johnson said. “We’re also working very hard right now to get things done before the big crunch in December. We don’t want to be in there when students are studying during finals week.”

Johnson said that they’re aiming to finish construction before students return from winter break, but if there are complications, there’s a chance it could run a week over. The most tedious project, Johnson said, will be the upgrades in Moody Tower because of its old structure and 18 floors per tower.

During these upgrades, Johnson said the current Wi-Fi will still be working, so the construction should not impede students’ Internet use.  

“Wi-Fi is no longer a way to get on the Internet,” Johnson said. “It’s the way to get on the Internet.”

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