By Hailey Hensley
The Student Government Association (SGA) sent an email to all residential students on September 23 informing them that they would have the opportunity to pick up a free ethernet cable for more stable internet connection in their residence halls.
In their announcement, it is stated that these ethernet cables will be available for pickup at the Bart Luedeke Center (BLC) information desk seven days a week at varying times.
The Ethernet cables will not need to be returned at the end of the year and belong to the student to keep, according to the email.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will also be providing USB-to-ethernet adapters for students who do not have an ethernet port on their device, however, those adapters will need to be returned at the end of the academic year.
The email emphasized the importance of students bringing their Bronc IDs with them if they wished to pick up a cord or adapter.
SGA President and senior musical theater major Dyan Erdelyi clarified that this program specifically ties into the Students Come First Initiative unveiled by SGA earlier this year.
“We received comments from several students who said they were experiencing unstable internet connections — when we followed up with OIT on those comments, they told us that plugging directly into ethernet would greatly improve connectivity,” Erdelyi said. “We decided to purchase the ethernet cables because this was exactly the intention of the Students Come First Initiative: setting aside funding to address students’ needs during the transition to remote learning.”
Erdelyi specified that this initiative has been funded in several ways, such as the SGA budget and the student activities fee (SAF) money.
“The Students Come First Initiative was funded partially by a restructuring of our own SGA budget, but also access to emergency reserve funding from the SAF, as outlined here [in the SGA Students Come First bill],” he said. “As mentioned in the bill, the initial stage of this initiative ends on Sept. 30. It included a reduction to the Student Activities Fee, creation of the new SGA Comment Box and availability of free Ethernet cables.”
The text of the Students Come First Initiative bill specifies key areas where students need the most support in the 2020-2021 school year and begins to outline some ways in which that will be provided.
The bill states that “In line with SGA’s May 28 Recommendations to the Fall Planning Task Force, the following areas have been determined to hold the highest priority in the allocation of emergency funding: student financial support, access to personal protective equipment, access to comprehensive mental health care and access to coronavirus testing.”
Senior organizational psychology major Ally Ward highlighted the fact that though internet access for on-campus students is important, off-campus students are struggling as well.
“A lot of students just do not have access to fast, steady internet at home. So real-time Zoom classes are incredibly difficult for them to manage, and students feel bad for having all these connectivity issues in class. I’m so happy on campus students are getting some help with this, but off-campus students like me are just screwed,” she said.
Erdelyi specified that the Students Come First Initiative is adaptive to student needs and new programs may be unveiled as the year goes on.
“If we find that there are new, outstanding student needs during this time, we will certainly consider extending the initiative to continue accessing that funding,” he said. “In reality, students always come first to us, but this initiative was a reminder that in this difficult time, the university community should be doing all that we can to lighten the burden on the student body.”