From the Editor: Technical troubles upload extra stress

A student clambers to her laptop, the words “finals” and “projects” flashing before her eyes, brighter than her computer screen. As the semester ends, she feels as though her own world is also ending, crushed by her responsibilities. Ready to work on a group presentation, she opens up Rider’s library databases and prepares to do her research.

Then, she cries out in anguish, cursing the university and slumping to the floor. In a single moment, all of her plans and preparation for the week are slashed by just a few words. Rider’s databases are down again.

Let’s face it, databases flaking out in the last two weeks of the semester are just the cherries atop a confection of growing tech issues at Rider. Some issues began in September and have not stopped since.

First off, the university’s wireless Internet has never been perfect, and that’s fair. Rider has had to increase our bandwidth twice in the past year, and for a while, things seemed like they were improving.

But after moving to Xfinity, students have suffered through periods when they simply can’t connect to the Internet. My cell phone is more likely to be using data than to be connected to nowires, regardless of where I am or what time it is.

I’ve watched other students trying to force their computers to reconnect to nowires, staring at their screens like they’re waiting for a miracle. This is at a university that operates through Canvas and communicates through Gmail. Clearly, we don’t need functioning Internet connections, right?

And while commuters are subjected to this only while at Rider, campus residents suffer all the time. While in class, everyone is looking to nowires. And at the end of the day, when campus residents sit down to do our homework and projects, we’re still under the inconsistent, unfair reign of nowires. We don’t have a choice.

“I have had instances where I was not able to research for projects that needed research due to the slow Wi-Fi here,” said Caitlin Dunn, a junior psychology major. “I therefore had to put off working on the projects until I went home for the weekend and had reliable Wi-Fi. Logging on to the computers in any of the academic buildings is a hassle because they take anywhere from two to five minutes to log you on.”

Dunn also said that she only finds reliable printing and Wi-Fi access in the library. She also wishes that more printing stations would be installed around campus, especially around more dorms.

It also adds to the mounting problem that we never know what’s happening because even planned technical outages are not communicated to us in a timely way.

Over Thanksgiving break, there was a planned electrical outage — planned, but not announced until Nov. 23 at 2:24 p.m., after many students had left campus for the break.

A friend who lives in the same dorm as I do, and who left campus before the email was sent, expressed her concerns to me. She said that we were allowed to leave our fridges plugged in but with the power outage, she was worried that hers would defrost and leak. If she received the email before she left campus, she could have unplugged her fridge and planned for the worst.

And the worst part is that all students pay $210 in technology fees every semester. What are we paying for? Is it the Wi-Fi that is so far beyond unreliable? Or is it maybe the printers which never have toner or never work? No, it must be for the online databases or for Canvas that occasionally stop working without any notice.

To be fair, it must be hard to track and fix all technical issues on a university scale. The number of devices per person continues to grow, making demands on bandwidth even greater. And students can find OIT work order forms online. If they’re having technical difficulties with their cable connections or outlets, they can always submit one of these forms in order to receive assistance. OIT and facilities deserve to be commended for how hard they work.

But there’s surely a tiny, itty bitty, unacceptable problem when I can’t access the databases and then, two days later, I can’t access Canvas, and all on the eve of finals.

We need to find a way to craft an Internet connection that is reliable and consistently accessible to all students. We need printers and databases that work, not ones that only function when the stars are aligned. And we need to know well ahead of time if there will be any technical or electric outages.

All of us, students, faculty and administrators, came here with a job. Whether that job was studying or teaching or managing things, all of our purposes intersect on the Internet. So, how are any of us supposed to do our jobs in this society, in 2015, when we can’t even reach the most integral part of it?

 

The weekly editorial express the majority opinion of The Rider News. This week’s editorial was written by the Opinion Editor, Samantha Sawh.

 

Printed in the 12/02/15 issue.

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