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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Full bars to no bars: CWRU’s tragic Wi-Fi saga

As college students, we use the internet in a variety of ways. We need the World Wide Web to do research, write essays, submit important correspondence and assignments, order food, set up meetings and talk to our classmates and professors. The school system without widespread access to the internet would be incredibly different—one could even argue worse. Yet, recently, that vital connection has been a bit faulty.

For about a month after move-in, Case Western Reserve University’s Wi-Fi connection seemed to be having some issues, specifically with networks that regularly disconnected, old networks that no longer accepted student accounts and various different networks working in different areas of the school. For some students who moved in a couple weeks earlier for on-campus programs, the issue lasted for even longer. Although the issue seems to be mostly resolved, I would still like to discuss the frustrating experiences my peers and I have had trying to use CWRU’s Wi-Fi networks over the past month.

As a student on the go with a horrible cellular provider, I have often found myself losing connection while relocating to new study spots or unable to connect to the Wi-Fi when trying to work in my dorm. There have been many nights right before quizzes when I considered abandoning studying altogether because the Wi-Fi wouldn’t let me access my textbook—which, unfortunately, is only available online—and many nights when my laptop or TV lost power altogether.

I often found myself on the guest Wi-Fi, tearfully clicking accept when asked to agree to the terms and conditions for the next four hours of internet access, before I got disconnected and had to try to sign in online again. This process involved switching between multiple networks and occasionally having to power off my laptop before the CaseGuest pop-up finally showed again, and I was granted another four hours of access.

Unsurprisingly, my friends expressed similar sentiments, complaining that CaseWireless doesn’t work well on Southside, and that using CaseGuest can be inconvenient with its four hour limit.

Upon first moving in, my other friends were unable to get their TV connected to the network for streaming services, having to rely on a phone hotspot—which costs money and data—for a considerable amount of time. When they asked maintenance for help with the issue, they were told that some spots just don’t receive connection and there’s nothing they can do about it. I’ve also had friends who have been suddenly disconnected while taking quizzes. Others I know have lost work on assignments due to network disruption, myself included.

In club meetings, the Wi-Fi is a regular point of discussion when technology is used. Pulling up presentations takes much longer than it should and taking notes in a Google Doc is now extremely tedious. In one of my classes last week, we were asked to move around the classroom in order to have a group discussion. When I brought out my laptop in order to take notes, I was unable to pull up the article that we were supposed to be discussing for five minutes before the Wi-Fi connection finally kicked back in. By then, half of our time was up, and I found myself unable to follow the conversation.

Overall, the occasional Wi-Fi issue isn’t so serious that I’m unable to complete work on time, but it is definitely a nuisance—not just for students, but also professors. The lack of a standardized network means having to go through every available one to try to see which will connect that day. It’s like playing the lottery, but the only prize is being able to efficiently complete your required work without having to move to the other side of campus.

Last year, there was a similar problem with the Wi-Fi at the beginning of the semester. I found myself unable to connect to a network many times, constantly losing connection for minutes with no idea as to when the network would be back online. While struggling to submit difficult assignments, I’d randomly lose minutes worth of work and have to re-input my answers. It got to the point where I’d begun to take screenshots of my answers just in case they got deleted due to unstable network connectivity.

These issues have truly made me wonder if the education system has begun to rely on technology too much in order to survive. You have to have a smartphone and a laptop in order to live a convenient life on campus. Without one, your meal options, information on grades and announcements, club registrations and essays and assignments are virtually impossible to access and complete.

As a university that relies so heavily on the internet in order to think beyond the possible, I would expect Wi-Fi—or the lack thereof—to be of utmost importance to everyone on campus.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Johnson
Hannah Johnson, Copy Editor

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