An announcement from Montclair State University Residence Life and Information Technology (IT) is signaling big changes for residential students.
After a survey was sent out to students across campus in mid-December, Residence Life announced through an email that there will be site surveys to monitor Wi-Fi in buildings. These surveys, much like room inspections, involve going door to door to check the strength of the Wi-Fi in each and every room.
Montclair State University’s wireless signals have been a common gripe for students, especially given the rise of synchronous online courses and live-streaming classes.
The problem with the university Wi-Fi has become the new normal since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in March 2020, which radically changed course modalities. Zoom, much like its competitors, is notorious for lagging speeds and the need for high bandwidth in order to get clearer video and audio.
The university has suggested that resident students opt for Ethernet cables instead of using the wireless connections available.
For Nate Williams, a junior communications and media arts major, using Ethernet is not much of a big deal. Williams uses Ethernet, a wired connection to an internet router, in order to use the internet. The wireless conundrum is not as much of an issue for him as it is for his suitemates in Freeman Hall.
“My suitemates have trouble with the wireless internet consistently on their phones, saying that they need to stand in a certain place in their room to get a better connection,” Williams said.
Freeman Hall is one of the oldest dormitories on campus, with seven floors and no air conditioning. In an email sent to Freeman residents regarding Wi-Fi, the administration assured students that, “Information Technology has identified opportunities where we can improve your Wi-Fi experience,” and highlighted that they will look to improve in “problematic areas.”
However, there is no concrete day or known timeline as to when we will see an improvement or a “brand new Wi-Fi experience.”
What this new experience would entail still remains unknown. Most likely it would involve more improved connectivity to students across campus, less dropped connections and possibly more reach beyond dorm rooms and classrooms.
For Joshua Tirado, a senior and television and digital media major, it is too little too late. Tirado is the station manager of WMSC and in charge of managing the station from his dorm room, so he depends on the Wi-Fi to schedule shows and music.
As a residential student, Tirado is very familiar with the pitfalls of Wi-Fi on campus.
“Honestly it doesn’t make sense that it’s so bad, because if they plan to move classes online but still propose on-campus housing they should invest in better Wi-Fi so their students can actually attend their classes,” Tirado said.
The rollout of the Wi-Fi is still to be determined, as is the general student reaction to these new changes.