By Abby Wolfenden and Sarah Cahn
Accessing wireless internet is an essential part of everyday life at Haverford. Students use it to access Moodle, read and write emails, complete homework assignments, and communicate with friends and families through social media. So, when the wifi went down recently, students had to adjust quickly.
Recently, Haverford implemented the use of eduroam, a wireless network service used by many colleges similar to the size of Haverford. Benefits of eduroam include instant connectivity in all buildings across campus, continuous log on without having to re-enter a username and password, and fluid use across the tri-co.
However, issues with the Haverford wireless internet network have caused stress and inconvenience for students and faculty since the start of school. Connectivity was poor during the early stages of shopping week, making it especially difficult to use Bionic. This issue was short-lived, and the network was up and running within 24 hours.
On Sept. 26, Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS) ProDesk sent out an email to students and faculty regarding issues with connectivity. This lack of connectivity soon became a full scale network outage, which lasted from Sept. 26 to Oct. 2. During this one week outage, many barriers arose for teachers sharing class materials and students completing assignments.
On Oct. 2, Megan Fitch, Chief Information Officer for the college, wrote an email explaining the cause of the outage to the Haverford student body.
“A network looping problem hit critical mass overnight last Tuesday into Wednesday, causing general slowness in the Internet and, much more problematically, unstable connections to the wireless network and to resources which require a fairly steady stream of orderly data packets,” Fitch said.
In the same email, Fitch announced that the problem was officially resolved. “The network has been stable for more than 24 hours now, so we feel that the various actions we took over the weekend and on Friday have effectively addressed the problems we experienced last week.”
The wifi outage inconvenienced many students working on campus, and even forced some students to leave campus in order to get their work done. Several students went to Bryn Mawr, where wifi was fully functioning, while others went into Ardmore. “I went to Green Engine to go get wifi,” Sydney Miller ‘21 said. “I didn’t feel [the effects] too much though because one of my teachers pushed my quiz back.”
Some professors were able to be accommodating with assessments, but many students were stressed by the inability to complete or prepare for assignments and tests. “I was unable to access an essay prompt that I only had a week to work on,” Emily Krupnick ’20 said. Other students experienced similar issues, since Moodle was inaccessible. Rebecca Chen ’22 also expressed her stress when trying to print in the library. “We were in the library really late at night trying to do homework and then [the wifi] turned off at midnight […] people were trying to print things but we couldn’t,” Chen said.
Beyond academic issues, the wifi outage also caused problems for running elections for student government. As mentioned at plenary, the election process was extended longer than usual in part due to the fact that it was difficult to access emails. Katie Chung ’21 remarked on the rarity of not reaching quorum multiple times with voting in the JSAAPP coheads, an essential position on campus. “I don’t think it was the community not caring about the position, it was just difficult for students to access the voting survey at that time,” Chung said.
Fortunately for Haverford students, there isn’t much of a history of poor wifi connection and the problem has been solved for over a week. “I haven’t had a problem with [the wifi] in years past. It’s really only been an issue this year,” Krupnick said.
Fitch assured students that the wifi outages were unfortunate and will hopefully no longer be an issue an campus. “I very much regret that the network instability went on for such a long time; we will keep working behind the scenes to improve stability and reliability for the future,” Fitch said.