The Sad State of West WiFi


By Zach Breeding, Editor in Chief

For those of you in the world looking to truly unplug from the online world, our editorial team has done the research and come up with the ideal location to accomplish this. And the best, or at least most convenient aspect of this location is that many of my readers may already in fact live here! That’s right, it’s Mckendree West which we have determined as the number one location to escape from those pesky WiFi signals that plague modern life so.

On the topic of WiFi, late last spring semester all students received an email regarding a decision the university had made to discontinue the cable service on campus in order to be able to provide better internet access and keep up with all of the streaming and such that occurs on campus. This email was met with much jubilation by all students as the WiFi did have its problems. Although in retrospect it was very solid and most importantly, reliable.

As students arrived on campus for the beginning of the year, myself arriving a week early, we discovered that the WiFi was in fact worse than it had been the year before. But perhaps this was just due to the fact that the school year hadn’t started yet and maybe all of the new systems weren’t yet in place. Then the first day of class rolled around and the issue hadn’t gotten any better. Pages wouldn’t load, videos took ages to buffer (if they even appeared), and email was essentially non existent.

Over the course of the first week I asked many of my friends across the apartment complex to time how long it took them to open up their email. This could include simply letting it load or having to disconnect and re connect to the internet over and over again until it would finally load. My longest time, in the variable of simply letting the page load to completion was 25 minutes. The quickest time that was reported to me from this camp was 48 seconds. In the realm of disconnecting and reconnecting the longest it took to load someone’s email was 13 minutes and the quickest was 2 minutes.

So, instead of merely complaining about this issue into the void, I gave it the ole college try and complained about it to IT. I received what at the time seemed to be a very well thought out reply from the IT department. It covered what was being done to resolve the issue, being instillation of new hardware, and the reason the WiFi was not ready on time, being that they did not have students here to stress test the existing hardware. I was satisfied with this, that is until I mentioned it to someone else and they described a strikingly similar email to me.

In fact, we had gotten the exact same email as each other about four days separated. In the name of investigative journalism, I thought I would continue the experiment and had one of my friends send the exact same email as me only changing their name. Lo and behold the same response was sent back. So, over the course of the last 2 weeks, at the least, the IT Help Desk has been issuing a copied and pasted email, which is full of promises that the internet should be up to speck in a matter of days, to students who are genuinely being affected by not having access to the internet.

So, unless they are using all of the time that is being saved on giving actual email responses to resolve the WiFi issues out at West, some questions about the state of the help desk arise. These include: What other processes at the help desk are being automated? Is anything being done about the WiFi? Was any work done over the summer to improve internet connectivity across campus?

Regardless of the scary implications of these questions, the fact of the matter remains that until we get a real response from the Help Desk about the state of the WiFi students at West are better off doing their online work in the library, the new active learning center, or even outside of one of the residence halls located on campus.