Internet malfunctions pose both academic and safety issues

By Page Forrest

Managing Editor

Over the weekend of October 22, the Sewanee-Secure network was down for almost four days. During midterms in the weeks before that, as well as this past week, Webprint has been consistently (or inconsistently if you will) malfunctioning. At the risk of sounding like a whiny, tech-obsessed millennial, these connectivity issues pose a serious detriment to day to day student life, and could have been addressed more rapidly.

As most of us know cell phone service at Sewanee is non-existent. We have a single AT&T tower and that’s it. However, this has become less of an issue with the advent of smartphones and wifi-based calls on computers. No longer are we dependent on standing outside our dorms to maybe be able to get in touch with our parents. Instead, we can use the wifi to get in touch with our families and friends with relative ease. However, when the wifi is down for days at a time, most of us have no way of reaching anyone with consistency, which can prove dangerous. Being able to reach your friends on a Saturday night is the difference between making it home safely and not making it back to your room at all.

As demonstrated on that Monday morning, the wifi issue was able to be fixed with relative ease. Given that it went down early Friday, this could and should have been addressed much earlier. Everyone deserves a break and a regular schedule, however sometimes issues come up. If Sewanee’s technical services workers are not being paid overtime or enough to come into work on the weekend, the school must address that. Their time is valuable, and so is our ability to get in touch with our loved ones.

As far as the issue of Webprint goes, this issue is more one of inconvenience than safety, but it still bears addressing. Yes, there are other printers on other floors of the library, but when we are in a rush, the vast majority of students will go to the two most easily accessible printers. This problem could be addressed if we dispersed to other floors, but it is unlikely that it will actually happen. Webprint being down proved especially disastrous during midterms. When every student is a frantic, frazzled mess crunched for time and the desktops take an average of five minutes to even log on, lines get backed up and tempers flare. On a normal morning, students will be printing their readings and papers ten minutes before class. Of course, we could plan ahead for Webprint being down, but that reaches a new low when we plan our schedules around things being broken or not working. The introduction of Webprint over a year ago was a blessing and has made our lives as students easier. Unfortunately, when that laptop to printer cycle is interrupted for days at a time, we end up late to class and frustrated. Is the solution professors not expecting us to print 40 pages for every class? That might be a good idea (and kill fewer trees in the process). In the meantime, attempts to streamline solutions could be made.

It’s easy to argue that our generation is far too privileged and too dependent on the internet. At this point, though, access to internet is becoming less of a privilege and more like a necessity. It’s how we communicate, find directions, apply for jobs, and manage our day to day lives. This is not the fault of one generation in particular, although millennials do seem to be the favored scapegoat nowadays, but rather the way society is progressing. Sewanee’s traditions and sense of history are what make the university unique, but at some point we must acknowledge that the technological isolation and lack of consistently functioning internet are a hindrance rather than a quirky tradition.