Increasing our access

Over the past few years, students at UVM have seen the campus expand and evolve, but something has been left behind. In 2005, University Heights opened its doors to more than 700 students and the Davis Center became the social hub of campus in 2007, but, today there are still places on campus where we cannot get wireless Internet. UVM Network Services offers a secure wireless network free of charge to all students, but without universal residence hall and academic building coverage, we cannot offer our full praise. In classrooms in buildings such as Lafayette, Old Mill or Williams there is no reason not to have a strong and fast Internet connection. Too many times have we been sitting in one classroom or another and been kicked off Cats PAWS as soon as webmail or some webpage loads – leading to countless frustrations at the Cats PAWS network and limited access to what is becoming the driving educational force of the modern world. Especially with the University’s move toward general online-based technologies like Blackboard, there is no reason for students to be unable to access their course’s homepage during or between classes. Wireless infrastructure is already in place in just about every building, so adding more routers to improve signal strength and coverage would likely be relatively easy and cheap. Many colleges are already hosts of far-reaching wireless networks with constant connectivity. Only about an hour and a half south, Dartmouth students can enjoy fast wireless access while at the Dartmouth Skiway – even some cities have full wireless coverage. So why can’t we have a strong Internet connection in our classrooms and dorms? As an academic institution with successful business, engineering and environmental colleges, UVM should offer potential students the best and most efficient technology available, despite any initial inconveniences. The positive effects of having a completely wireless campus, including outdoor areas, would certainly outstrip whatever costs it may entail. We are mindful of the University’s current financial status, however as class sizes are stretched and professors are expected to juggle more responsibility, the Internet becomes much more than a luxury. As we look to become a leading University in the future, it is of the utmost importance that our infrastructure meet the needs of UVM’s scholars.