Internet connection disconnects students


The Internet has become a college student essential, right along with textbooks and Red Bull. USD students use it for almost everything inside and outside the classroom.

USD’s unreliable Internet connection is disadvantaging on-campus students. If not fixed, the Internet connection may end up failing us, both socially and academically.

Many students and staff members have experienced this Internet connection epidemic first-hand.

“Since my first semester at USD, I’ve had issues with the Internet connection,” sophomore Alexa Argumedo said. “There are places in my Alcala Vista apartment where there is no connection. On many occasions I’ve had an assignment due on Blackboard and the Internet is down. It is a problem that needs to be fixed sooner than later.”

Junior Celena Olivar has experienced similar problems with USD Internet in her on-campus dorm room.

“I have problems with the USD Internet connection, especially when I am trying to Skype,” Olivar said. “I am constantly losing connection in my dorm room.”

In addition to issues with Internet connection in on-campus housing, students have voiced their concerns with their Internet connection throughout main campus.

“I have a really hard time getting on the Internet when I’m in Shiley Center,” sophomore Allison DeHart said. “Since I’m a science major, I spend the majority of my time there. It’s difficult for me to do homework between classes without access to the Internet.”

While many students have complained to their peers and professors about the Internet connection, Chris Wessells, Vice Provost and Chief Information Officer, reports that few people have voiced their concerns about the problem to the Information Technology Services Help Desk.

According to an article from Social Media Today, “it’s no surprise that today’s college students are some of the biggest Internet users. Look around any campus and you’ll see college students connecting all over the place.”

Our generation is reliant on the Internet for all things academic. USD students use the Internet for almost everything, including papers, projects and presentations. We use it to research information, study for exams and keep in contact with group members. Without this resource, many of us would feel lost in our studies.

Further, the Internet is used as a social tool to provide a sense of identity and community for USD students. The time spent on social media websites is used to connect students on campus and foster their creativity through these outlets. This social connection shouldn’t be interrupted by a poor Internet connection.

Issues with the Internet have become a common conversation among students and professors in many classrooms on campus, which I have experienced firsthand in my own classes.

One example comes from inside Serra Hall 212, Professor Erik Fritsvold’s Criminology class. The Thuze textbook comes in an user-friendly electronic version, which most students have opted to use exclusively. Many of these students have complained about the slow loading time of the online reading.

Fritsvold talked to Thuze tech support about the slow loading issue, as well as ITS about other technological issues related to the book. The only advice he could offer his students was going off-campus to a Starbucks to do the course reading.

USD students should not have to be forced off-campus for their studies. Students may not have any way to get off campus, which discriminates against those without transportation.

PC World’s Lincoln Spector suggests an ethernet cable, but this is not the right answer. While it makes the Internet more reliable, college students are on the go and cannot be constrained.

This generation of USD students are everywhere, moving from Aroma’s Cafe to Copley Library. Students cannot be required to carry around bulky cables in their backpacks. Even if they did, ethernet ports are not readily available for students to plug into around campus.

The USD server seems less equipped to handle the influx of requests for the Internet access throughout campus, which is much higher than any previous year in USD’s history. However, Wessells says there has been an increase in demand for Internet resources because of “the overall growth in maximum internet usage semester by semester.”

According to Wessells, ITS is preparing for USD’s next generation of Wi-Fi at USD, with a price tag of about $4.25 million.

ITS has put in an equipment request for new Firewalls, antennas and switches to improve the system. The equipment request review for the budget is May 2014, and administration should make a decision by the end of June.

Wessells assures that steps are being taken for future Internet improvement, but claims that few complaints about the current problems have been made to ITS.

“I’ve check[ed] with the ITS Help Desk and there are no significant issues that have been reported this semester about Wi-Fi, so I would like to ensure [that] students know how to report any issues,” Wessells said.

Since this service is not as visible to the public, it may be easier to neglect or ignore the problem. When prospective students and parents visit the campus, they see the external picture, such as the buildings and landscape. Rarely do they open up their computers and test the Internet connection.

While current students and professors may interact with the problematic Internet, the problem is easy to put in the back of our minds when we are not sitting in front of a computer screen.        

While this lack of visibility may explain the delay in a complete update of the system, it does not explain why students are not speaking up about this problem. Many students are complaining to their peers and professors, but few people have gone directly to the source. If we keep silent about the things that affect us, these issues will continue unresolved.

Internet is a fundamental requirement of every college. We cannot waste any more of our valuable time worrying about our Internet connection. As USD students, we have the right to reliable and fast Internet in order to be successful students.

USD students need to be proactive about the problems they face at our university, including the on-campus Internet connection. Once administration hears our voices, they will be prompted to swiftly solve these issues and approve the ITS equipment requests.

“I want the students to have excellent technology experience at this university,” Wessells said. “Beyond the infrastructure and the Internet and the Wi-Fi, if there are any other problems that students have we need to know about them. Communication from the students to the help desk is critical, otherwise we can’t address their problems. We are very responsive if we know something’s wrong.”

While Wessells words seem promising, I remain unconvinced about the state of our Internet connection at USD. We need to encourage one another to report any Internet issues we experience to ITS in order to see an improvement.

Once students break the silence and speak up about this issue, we will be able to know who is partially responsible for our academic and social disconnect so that we are able to move forward with future solutions.