Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Wireless a Matter of Funding Priorities

As universities across the country finish campaigns to make wireless Internet accessible everywhere on their campuses, [wireless at Georgetown remains a spotty affair](

A lack of funding continues to hamper the expansion of the university’s wireless Internet network, but the university hopes to give residence halls wireless access once money becomes available.

“We’re waiting for funding, so we basically have everything stocked up and ready to go,” University Information Systems Senior Director Beth Ann Bergsmark said. “Our network upgrade plans, should funds become available, focus on accelerating the residence halls first as one of the areas with the greatest need.”

While many universities – including The Dartmouth College, Duke University, Pennsylvania State University, Princeton University and, soon, The George Washington University – offer wireless access on their entire campuses, Georgetown’s wireless network has long been a patchwork that UIS has filled in gradually. One such expansion came in early 2008, when Lauinger Library’s wireless system was upgraded.

The university’s recent wireless projects have included giving the new Hariri Building wireless access and replacing aging wireless access points in the Intercultural Center.

According to Bergsmark, it would cost several million dollars to make the campus completely wireless, and doing so involves much more than installing wireless access points.

“The combination of the number of critical failure avoidance and security projects, as well as economic feasibility, [have] all played a role in [the lack of funding for wireless expansion],” Bergsmark said.

“Wireless sits on top of the core network infrastructure which, in many areas, requires replacement to support current generation wireless,” she said.

ain campus currently has about 700 wireless Internet access points, with the newest generation of wireless in Lauinger Library, the Pre-Clinical Science Building and the ICC. This newer generation of access points is able to handle larger quantities of users, as well as more programs that occupy large bandwidth space.

In the past, wireless Internet access was not prioritized for upgrades or expansion, but Bergsmark said UIS has worked to make wireless more of a priority. More recently, UIS has used major building renovations or constructions as opportunities to upgrade wireless access in those locations.

Bergsmark acknowledged that such a policy is not a permanent solution.

“We can’t survive . just doing it there,” she said.

In terms of wireless technology, Bergsmark admitted that Georgetown lags behind its peer institutions.

“Definitely in terms of wireless we’re very vulnerable [in] the fact that we don’t have our residence halls covered, and we don’t have our academic buildings covered. . I think that we are aware of that,” she said.

Students agree that the lack of wireless Internet in many locations on campus is less than ideal.

“I think for such a big university, our wireless coverage should be better,” Kathleen Michel (COL ’12) said.

“My biggest frustration is that sometimes in the library I can’t get wireless . and that’s a problem because a lot of time people use the library to study and you need Internet to study sometimes,” Lauren Dupuis (MSB ’11) said.

“An entire building of classrooms – like Walsh – is not wireless and that’s a problem. When I want to look up something for a class or have something open for discussion I can’t because there is no wireless,” Maron Alemu (COL ’11) said.

ary Catherine Ingram (COL ’10) said wireless access is an important resource for students. She said many of her professors will often ask students to look up something on the Internet during class, but they are unable to do so in classrooms in Walsh.

“I don’t know if professors realize the total lack of Wi-Fi availability that students have to deal with because they seem to think that no matter where we are we can log on to Blackboard,” she said.

While students see the lack of wireless as a drawback, professors have noted that the presence of wireless can hinder learning in the classroom.

“I generally think it [Internet] is a distraction [in the classroom]. . But I don’t think it is a reason to not have wireless in the classroom,” said professor Sam Marullo, chair of the sociology department.

Jose Casanova, a professor in the sociology department, suggested instating a code of conduct created by professors to allow students to use Internet responsibly in the classroom.

“I can understand that in a large class, wireless may be a distraction,” Casanova said. “On the other hand, it can be a great tool … if it is used responsibly.”

While both professors agree that wireless in the classroom can be a disruption to learning, Casanova and Marullo also said that wireless in classrooms can bring about many advantages.

“There are disciplines where wireless usage is necessary,” Casanova said. “It is a question of context . and the preference of professors.”

“All classrooms should have wireless access,” Marullo said.

According to The GW Hatchet, The George Washington University’s three campuses will be completely wireless by the end of this month. According to the article, GWU Chief Information Officer David Steinour said only a few access points needed to be installed before the university could be considered completely wireless.

While Bergsmark could not give an exact date as to when students could enjoy a completely wireless campus, she did understand the importance of bringing wireless to all the buildings on campus.

“I would hope that the residence halls are done soon, and I would hope that the other priority buildings would move forward quickly,” she said.”

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