Oh Wi-Fi, Where Art Thou?

We’ve all done it. We take our laptops to class with every intention of listening to our professors and taking notes, but the temptation of going on the Internet for Facebook, ESPN or online shopping ultimately gets the best of us. But despite the abuse, the Internet is a classroom necessity, as many students use it to reference their EEE reading response or research a topic to spark a class discussion. But when Wi-Fi provides a weak signal or fails to cover a classroom, downloading a PDF and being on the same page as the professor becomes impossible.

Poor Wi-Fi signals or classrooms not receiving wireless connections have become more prevalent throughout campus. On the first floor of Social Science Laboratory, wireless Internet can only be accessed in room 140 and out in the plaza between SSL and Social Science Tower. Other Wi-Fi headaches persist in SST, Parkview Classroom Building and certain areas in the engineering part of campus.

So what is the problem with weak Internet connections or the lack thereof?

According to the Office of Information Technology, there are not enough resources to cover all parts of campus and a school such as Social Sciences does not have enough access points. In Engineering Lecture Hall, room 110 can only hold about 40 connections before crashing or slowing down, and the libraries have the same problem during finals week.

Whether or not students are abusing their Internet privileges, poor wireless connection should not be such a problem. It would only make sense for every classroom at one of the premier research institutions in the nation to have above average Wi-Fi access. And for $28,000 a year, not having ample resources should not be an excuse for a subpar wireless connection.

This wireless problem also extends to the residence halls of Mesa Court and Middle Earth. Although there are certain areas and buildings that receive Wi-Fi access, most of the halls in these two housing communities do not have wireless access. Instead, first-year students are chained down to the restrictions of Ethernet cords.

The same goes for on-campus apartments in Campus Village, where just 40 feet behind the Science Library the curtain of campus Wi-Fi is lifted, and the only way to connect wirelessly is through your own router.

It seems a shame that the 19-acre Aldrich Park has impeccable Wi-Fi, when only a handful of students at any given time are camped out with their laptops in the park. It’s enjoyable and a nice luxury during spring quarter to sit outside in the sun doing homework on your laptop, but in all honesty, the Wi-Fi would be put to better use in on-campus housing communities.

Our campus’ sheer physical size might be a disadvantage in this respect. Compared to other UCs with comparable numbers of students, UCI’s buildings are far more spread out over a larger area, posing a larger task for extending wireless coverage.

Given the quality of our university, however, any obstacles in securing reliable Wi-Fi on campus should be addressed. It’s bad news when on-campus residents get better Wi-Fi in Starbucks, Panera or other Orange County chain eateries than at their own school.

We live in the 21st century, at a cutting-edge world-class university that touts being advanced in technological resources. Phones have the power to access the Internet in some of the most remote areas. Anything with a cord is considered an antique. UC Irvine should have adequate routers that hold enough connections and supply proper Wi-Fi connections to students. And students living in the dorms, Campus Village or any other on-campus apartment should not be held hostage by a 20-foot Ethernet cord.

Please send comments to newuopinion@newuniversity.org. Include your name, year and major.