By Peter Fiorilla
Recently, the College discussed the possible options of either installing Wi-Fi in the freshman Towers or closing the loop on campus. This would hypothetically amount to adding sidewalks for the safety of outdoor runners, a move that would serve the needs of fewer people — nobody was exactly clamoring for more sidewalks on campus, whereas the lack of Wi-Fi is a running gag — but nonetheless, it’s a commitment I feel would ultimately serve the campus community better.
The arguments in favor of Wi-Fi are as obvious as they are numerous. An institution charging nearly $30,000 a year for room and board should reasonably be expected to supply accessible internet in the year 2014, even if it’s of shaky quality and requires Safe-Connect.
Wi-Fi makes completing and submitting homework assignments, e-socializing and an infinite number of other tasks more convenient and streamlined. Middle and high schools across the state have no problem supplying it — I never had any problems with the internet at Watchung Hills Regional High School more than five years ago — while College freshmen are still plugging in ethernet cords like it’s 1983.
What this ultimately amounts to is a huge inconvenience, and one that should be a priority for the administration to remedy. But it’s just that: an inconvenience. Students can live without Wi-Fi in their dorms, and there are hotspots as close as the Travers/Wolfe lounge if they absolutely need Wi-Fi for anything.
Running the loop, on the other hand, has the potential to amount to something more serious. As is, running the loop requires various acrobatic skills to evade oncoming cars and an unhealthy tolerance for danger to go running every day. The loop generally isn’t very wide, and if you consistently go on the road, there will inevitably be near-misses. The transition in the loop from behind the Education Building to Centennial Hall, for example, can be genuinely scary.
As noted in a Sept. 17 article in The Signal, “Wi-Fi in the Towers voted down,” there have been no running-related incidents reported by Campus Police since 2011, and that’s a great sign. But that’s not a predictive measurement — it doesn’t mean anything won’t happen in the future — and after years of running the loop on a regular basis, I think the current setup enhances the possibility of a critical incident occurring. Keeping runners as far removed from that kind of danger should be important to the administration, even more so than supplying freshman with what is ultimately a luxury convenience.