BY LAUREN REEVES
This semester, students have sent numerous emails. Dialed in hyperventilated & breathless calls. And, frantically marched their way to the Information Technology (IT) department located in the lower level of the Marion K. Piper Academic Center. Why are the students doing this? The reason is that the students of McKendree University are fed up with the Wi-Fi capabilities offered.
However, there is nothing to fear. Students no longer have to worry because IT is here to help. The department is aware of the issues users are facing when working with the Wi-Fi. Over the summer, IT was allowed to expand their offices in order to hire more staff members to combat all the issues that students may face. What most students don’t know is that McKendree has over 6,000 users, which outweighs McKendree’s eight supervisors in charge of making sure everything electronic runs smoothly. With a small staff like that, McKendree’s IT department, who works around the clock, not only handles Wi-Fi. They manage Blackboard, Data Tel, Intranet, cellular calling, and even the heating & cooling system for Physical Plant. Most students overlook those other aspects as they sit and complain about how long IT is taking to fix their one Wi-Fi issue.
Little do students know, but IT has been fighting the Wi-Fi problems before students arrived on campus. Recently, McKendree installed a new system for the Residence Halls: Walton, Barnett, Baker, the Suites and New Halls. At the West Apartments, IT has installed brand new operating systems to ensure a more stable connection for off-campus usage.
However, even with new systems, students are still having issues with the Wi-Fi. Director of IT George Kriss states, “We are averaging about 5 devices per student.” He accounts that, “We have enough access points, but we have so many devices trying to connect at once that the system just wants to stop working.” Overall, Kriss and his co-workers plan to continue to update the systems at West in order to have all the buildings on the same system but with different networks specific to each building.
As IT finishes the Wi-Fi installations and updates, students should feel free to continue to seek help from the department. Christopher Maura, IT Systems Administrator, says, “We work on a case-by-case basis. If anyone has trouble, let us know.” Students can set up appointments or house calls for an IT member to come look at the particular apartment or room to see what the real issue is.
Maura also states, “No news is good news. If we don’t hear anything, then we assume that nothing is wrong.” For that reason alone students need to make sure they are letting IT know of any problems they may have. Contact IT by either calling, emailing or visiting the IT HelpDesk in the lower level of PAC next to their offices.
If you cannot do those options, or you simply want to see if you can fix the problem yourself, then Kriss and Maura offer up suggestions to help guide you. “We try to make it as easy as possible,” notes Kriss.
- Only have one device connected to the Wi-Fi
- Reboot all systems if the device freezes
- Contact your roommates or neighbors to see if they can connect to Wi-Fi
- Troubleshoot with McKendree IT Student Support guides
In addition to all things wireless, George Kriss also mentions cable television could be on its last leg at McKendree University. “We spend a small fortune on cable television each month, and no one seems to be very happy about it.” In the older residences there is only one cable box per apartment or dormitory. McKendree can only offer a basic subscription for TV programing. Kriss also points out that, “Students aren’t happy that we don’t offer more sports or movie packages. So who is really happy?”
He plans to propose to the Student Government Association (SGA) that surveys be conducted to see if the students agree that it is time to get rid of cable TV. Kriss goes on to say, “We would still provide those HD antennas to allow students to get local channels for news, but all the money we are dumping into cable TV that no one seems to be happy with can be put into wireless and bandwidth.” For students, that means better connections for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, gaming, and other great wireless needs at a faster speed.
With everything in mind, students need to know that McKendree’s IT department is here to help. They are working around the clock. According to Kriss, “We challenge you to go to another school where there is not Wi-Fi problems.” McKendree is lucky to have free wireless connections and free IT help available for students. “We don’t want to charge, but we want our users to be conscious of how much data they are using as they download things.”
Students, if something is wrong, please seek the IT help you need. George Kriss and Chris Maura agree that everyone in IT is there to help you when you need it. “Just let us know. It’s a two-way street, but we are willing to help.”