Why can’t the university get the Wi-Fi right for its students?



After two years of working as a reporter and editor, Kendal Manns, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, will take over as the 2022-23 editor-in-chief of The Hornet Tribune, the oldest Black college newspaper in the nation. His term began on May 1, 2022.

Kendal Manns, Editor-in-Chief

Two months into the fall 2022 semester at Alabama State University and one thing that has remained consistently clear: the Wi-Fi is horrible.
Campus-wide students and faculty alike have struggled with issues with the internet and maintaining a connection throughout the workday. The Office of Technology Services (OTS) has sent out emails saying they are working on the Wi-Fi, which seems like every week. Whether it is in the residence halls, the classrooms, or in the John Garrick Hardy Center, getting a consistent internet connection is few and far between.
This lack of consistent internet access provides a major inconvenience for the student body as a majority of the work being asked of us requires us to do assignments online. When we have to use online educational technology applications like Canvas, Pearson and Slack, we need consistent connection. If students cannot do their work in their residence halls for fear of internet issues and the Levi Watkins Learning Center closes at 8:30 p.m. on most weekdays, where else are they supposed to do their work?
Everyone does not have access to other internet options like hot spots. This lack of Wi-Fi places students in a really bad spot, especially when most professors are not making exceptions for the lack access to good Wi-Fi. I have heard from many students that these issues are directly affecting their grades, with the issue sometimes showing up when they are taking exams. The connection goes out and, in some cases, their progress is lost or their exam finishes and grades them prematurely.
This kind of issue cannot be ignored. With finals and other big projects coming up, we need these issues to be repaired sooner than later. These times are stressful enough for students. There is no need to add more stress on top of it.
Wi-Fi issues also cause safety concerns for students that stay on campus. When the Wi-Fi goes down, it affects the keypads, the doors, cameras and more. I have seen many students have to leave their doors cracked open because the keypads do not work. Anybody can walk into your suite leading to items being stolen.
The cameras and doors in the residence halls provide extra layers of safety for the students.
For a university that is trying to improve its safety, this Wi-Fi issue has to be repaired. Our campus is not as safe as it could be if random people can walk on it whenever they please. If the cameras and doors in the residence halls do not function correctly, then it raises the threat even more. People can enter rooms that are not supposed to be there, and crimes can happen with no evidence available.
In a previous editorial, I talked about the number of students on this campus and how we do not have adequate resources to accommodate them. I think the Wi-Fi issue we are currently experiencing is another example of this. This is the first time we have had this many students on campus since pre-COVID-19 pandemic, and it shows.
According to usnews.com, the university has a 98% acceptance rate and a fall 2021 undergraduate enrollment of 3,499. That number has remained the same, and it can be seen in the number of students on campus. With numbers like these, one can imagine why students need Wi-Fi access.
We are allowed to have up to four devices connected to the Wi-Fi at one time, meaning the number of devices connected to the internet at one time could be four times the number of students we have on campus. We are using an extraordinary amount of bandwidth, which is probably the cause of our inconsistent connection.
I think the university should find alternatives to Wi-Fi if the issue cannot be fixed and maintained easily. Giving students access to wired internet or having OTS teach students how to troubleshoot routers could make things easier for everybody.
Regardless of how the issue is solved, the current state of Wi-Fi is not sustainable at all. Students cannot continue to work in this environment and be as productive as they can be. Assignments and exams will be harder and harder to finish with Wi-Fi going in and out. The safety concerns created with inconsistent Wi-Fi are not worth the risk of keeping things the way they are. The university cannot continue to put this issue off any longer. The Wi-Fi must be fixed for good immediately.