By Ellie Schuckman
At long last, Travers and Wolfe halls have Wi-Fi.
Central housing for all freshmen, the Towers’ lack of wireless internet connection has long been a hot-button issue, but as of Wednesday, March 29, the two buildings are ethernet-only no more.
“We’re really excited,” said Sharon Blanton, chief information officer and vice president of Information Technology. “It’s a great opportunity to be able to give something to the students at an unusual time of the year.”
Getting Wi-Fi for the Towers has been a priority, but finding a feasible and affordable way to do so was no easy feat, according to Blanton.
“We were struggling with the right timing to install Wi-Fi,” she said.
With Travers and Wolfe initially set to be demolished, installing any type of wireless internet connection would have been a waste of money, according to Blanton. With the recent decision to, instead, renovate the buildings, it became possible to give students wireless devices.
“Once the decision was made to remodel, we had, then, a real timeline,” Blanton said. “The remodeling isn’t going to start for another few years and then there’s a year or two before it’s ready for the rooms to be (occupied). We didn’t want students to go that much longer without (Wi-Fi).”
Kicking off the Wi-Fi celebration, alternating rooms on each floor had a golden ticket slid under their doors. Students then went to T-Dubs to trade in their ticket for the wireless device and instructions on how to use them.
Individuals simply plug the ethernet cable from the Wi-Fi unit into the wall jack and then connect it to a power adapter.
“These access points are the very same access points that we have installed all throughout campus, so they’re capable of maintaining many more connections,” Blanton said. “These aren’t like your home Wi-Fi. They’re enterprise class devices.”
In an effort to make the event more festive, free waffles were served in T-Dubs for students to enjoy while collecting the devices.
How did they decide on waffles? Alliteration.
The idea for “Waffle Wi-Fi Wednesday” was contrived with merely a week’s notice, according to Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Sean Stallings.
“We put this together very quickly,” Stallings said. “(The golden tickets) were an attempt to kind of have fun with it and we knew that we wanted to try to grab people’s attention. … Those who have (the units) have to have them plugged in and active in order for all students to benefit.”
For freshmen currently in the Towers, hearing they would finally have wireless internet access came as a shock.
“I was relieved and surprised when I found out the Towers were getting Wi-Fi because I thought that if it was that easy they would have just done it from the beginning,” said Michelle Ardiff, a freshman communication studies major.
While having Wi-Fi access is pleasing to many, some upperclassmen feel at a disadvantage.
“Of course there is a part of me that is a little bit bitter about the situation,” said Nina Paranjpe, a junior biology major. “But I think that if everyone had that attitude, then nothing would change about the school. Sooner or later the mentality of ‘because I had it rough, then you have to, too’ has to go away.
“I don’t think that it is unfair, I think that many alumni will be a little bitter, but if the school finally has the resources to supply Wi-Fi to all buildings, then the school should do so,” she added.
With less than two months left till the end of the school year, Blanton hopes providing the devices now will be a good test run for next year’s freshman class.
“I know it’s toward the end of the semester, but this will give us a really good test,” she said. “It’s our hope that we can work out any bugs that there might be over these next few weeks and then we’ll be in even better shape for the fall.”
Now that Travers and Wolfe have Wi-Fi, next on the College’s list is the Townhouses, which are set to have the same devices installed over the summer. Come the Fall 2017 semester, those living in Townhouses South, West and East can expect wireless internet connection, according to Blanton.
“Our plan is to do installation in the Townhouses this summer,” she said. “We’ll have it all set up before the students move in.”
Though the Towers now have Wi-Fi, students may see improvements or alternate forms of wireless internet connection in the future.
“I want to emphasize that this is not the intended solution or end product, but we believe that this is a great way to give students Wi-Fi sooner,” Stallings said. “If everyone cooperates and follows the instructions with keeping their units live, then the building should have significant Wi-Fi strength throughout.”