The challenge of a flawless connection
Bethany Montgomery, Staff Writer
ITS works behind the scenes to provide technology services for the students and faculty on campus, maintain the university’s networks, and keep the campus email functioning properly.
As self-described, Integrated Technology Services, or ITS, found on the main level of the O’Grady Library, “…actively support[s] the educational goals of the University by providing services, resources, facilities and technology in order to provide access to information and knowledge.”
These services require frequent updates and adjustments to keep the campus technology services running, easily accessible, and as user-friendly as possible. In addition to registering student devices, creating student emails, and fixing other technology issues, ITS offers discounts and free installations on various software, including Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Security Essentials, and Malwarebytes.
The malfunctions of various devices and networks is common on all college campuses. However, as most on-campus students are aware, one of the loudest yet unspoken issues on the Saint Martin’s campus is access to the campus Wi-Fi. Only accessible to the Saint Martin’s community, the campus Wi-Fi has been a popular subject of complaint for Saint Martin’s students for several years now. From inconsistent reliability and spotty connection around particular parts of campus, students have continued their murmured frustrations in their inability to access the online print service (print.stmartin.edu) or submit assignments via Moodle before the deadline. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of ITS, this problem has greatly reduced over the past year. Greg Davis, the Associate VP and CIO of the department, described the positive upgrades in an email.
“Over the summer ITS upgraded the Wi-Fi on campus to support more concurrent users and upgrade overall signal strength, primarily in the areas that have student-heavy activity, including the residence halls; gathering spaces like St. Gertrude’s Cafe, Monks Bean, the TUB, and the Charneski Rec Center; and the new Ernsdorff Center.”
While this has made a significant impact on improving the Wi-Fi access for students on campus, the occasional issue has still occurred, most significantly over midterms.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, students received an email from the ITS Help Desk stating, “Our internet service provider had an unplanned outage that began at 2 am last night that prevented all internet access. Our internet connection was not re-established until just before 8 am this morning. With this being midterm time, we understand any interruption in service can be a challenge to your studies and projects.”
Students attempting to submit papers panicked when they discovered that they were unable to turn in their midterm assignments.
A former RA expressed the shared concern of her fellow students.
“They didn’t expect the Wi-Fi to be out. They have finals to take and that is really hard since there is no Wi-Fi. They were asking for extensions, because they can’t do anything about it.”
She continued with her general thoughts on the issue.
“I don’t have any problem with IT. Overall, they said that it’s because they don’t have the budget to upgrade it or something.”
A student working in ITS reiterated this point, “ITS doesn’t have the funding to fix the Wi-Fi to perfection,” he stated. “[They] can’t really do much at this point because of the rapidly expanded student population, and the lack of needed funds to sufficiently vamp the network.”
While the cause of the midterms fiasco is unknown, Davis helped shed light on other contributing factors to the Wi-Fi dilemma.
“One ongoing challenge with the wireless network is the introduction of any wireless devices that broadcast a Service Set Identifier (SSID), for example, wireless printers and Roku TV. When these devices are not properly configured, these devices create interference that interrupts the University signal. This interference results in inconsistent, degraded performance for any wireless device in the area.”
Davis then elaborated, “In a recent review, ITS has identified 28 of these devices that may be impacting the user experience.”
While Wi-Fi has been a point of contention between students and ITS, several students have admitted that they are not likely to file an actual complaint or help request. However, without student communication with the ITS department, these issues will remain student murmurs. Students are able to submit support requests online or stop by the department’s office to drop off devices in need of repair.
Davis reiterated “ITS is available to help with the configuration of any student devices through Help Desk requests.”