Jamie Michelman, a student ambassador for SUNY New Paltz, gives tours of residence halls to prospective students and their families, answering any questions they may have. Student ambassadors are paid to be knowledgeable and positive about the school, but there is one topic even they can’t say much about.
“Parents and students who plan to live on campus ask us if all the residence halls have wireless Internet access,” said Michelman. “All I can say is, ‘We’re working on it.’ ’’
Out of the 13 residence halls on the SUNY New Paltz campus, seven do not have wireless Internet access for laptop and desktop computers. Of the six dorms that are wireless, four became wireless last semester.
According to Network Administrator of Computer Services Brian Locke, campus wireless is funded by 4.4 percent of the technology fee, which is a flat rate of $165 per semester. Additionally, the entire ResNet fee is 0.7 percent of the students room and board. Some students say they are entitled to get what they pay for.
“It just doesn’t seem right to me that we all pay for something, but the use of it is limited to certain groups of people,” said Saskia Archibald, a senior who lives in Dubois Hall, which currently does not have wireless access.
For the residence halls that do not have access to the school’s wireless network, the student help desk provides ethernet cords to connect to the Internet. If students are tripled, they get a hub that connects to the wall jack creating four outlets instead of just one.
Sometimes students find the cords cumbersome and the jacks faulty. Sophomore Megan Eberhardt said jack access became more complicated when she lived in a tripled room.
“Our desks were in random places,” she said. “There were three 25-foot yellow cords in the room. My dad had to crouch on his hands and knees and run the cords under the beds so we wouldn’t have the cords running through the center of our room. Luckily, we had the hub because one of the Internet jacks didn’t even work.”
According to Locke, the reason why the Hasbrouck Complex (Deyo, Dubois, Bevier, LeFevre and Crispell Halls) is not wireless is a construction issue rather then a financial one.
“Originally our goal was to make every building on campus wireless,” Locke said. “Now, I don’t know how long this will take. There is a lot of construction floating around. We can’t spend time and money putting up wireless if construction is just going to come in and gut the building.”
The Hasbrouck Complex is the oldest complex on campus, built in the late 1960s. Even if these buildings do not get renovated, the majority of the work that needs to be done in order to make the buildings wireless needs to take place in the part of the buildings where the students live.
“We can only drill holes in the walls of the residence halls during certain times of the year,” said Locke. “We try to do what we can during the summer months. We are caught in a struggle between manpower and limited time.”
In the meantime, the library has wireless internet access and many students choose to go there to do work. Other students prefer to work in the comfort of their own rooms, even if that means spending extra money and breaking the rules in order to do so.
Denise Upton, a senior at SUNY New Paltz, set up a wireless router in her room, which according to Academic Computing is not allowed. “It was worth it for me to buy a wireless router and set up a private network,” said Upton. “Now I can use my laptop anywhere in my suite, not just at my desk.”
Some students have expressed their concerns to computer services. “Students come into my office every once in a while asking about the wireless situation,” said Locke. “We’re doing the best we can. Sometimes it’s out of our hands.”