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Three years later…still waiting for Wi-Fi expansion on campus

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Written by: Matthew Grant Arnold and Emily Lukasewycz

 

Wireless service at Mercer remains limited after the three years expansion plan. In the April 13, 2009 VOICE article titled “Waiting for Wi-Fi Expansion at Mercer” written by Zachary Hendrick, the Executive Director for Information and Technology Services Susan Bowen told The VOICE “one of the initiatives cited in [our current] plan is to increase wire- less communications on campus within the next three years.”

In a recent interview with The VOICE, Bowen presented new information than what was said in her first interview about the expansion plan saying that “It really wasn’t a three year plan.”

Bowen explained that what the school did do, however, was have a vendor come through the school, giving them an idea as to where wireless access points would be placed through the cam- pus if the campus ever decided to expand connectivity.

“We do have a plan that we’ve worked out.. if we were to do the entire campus at both campuses,” said Bowen. “We just do not have the funding at the point to do that.”

At present, the places on campus where students can en- joy a strong Wi-Fi signal include the Student Center and Library. The second floor Student Success Center has little to no signal. The bookstore has a great connection, however, it is impractical to sit in the bookstore to do work online.

According to a survey conducted by the VOICE on December 5th, 2012, students seem to be satisfied with the WI-Fi on campus. When asked to rate the connection on campus, 45 per- cent rated it as pretty good or excellent, 18 percent said it is fair and 31 percentage feels it is poor or very poor.

Mercer’s website offers instructions for connecting to the Wi-Fi system, but these reference the out of date Windows XP operating system. The school’s computers currently use Windows 7.

In an interview with The VOICE, Dean of Students Dr. Diane Campbell said that the last time Mercer rearranged their office space was in 2010. She told the VOICE that the Wi-Fi connection hasn’t been changed at all since that time.

“Right now, I know you can be connected in the library, in the Student Center. Outside on the campus, if you’re sitting close to the buildings you certainly can be connected,” Dean Campbell said. She also said that there’s connectivity in the Administration building and that they have reno- vated connectivity at the James Kerney Campus during their recent renovations.

The wireless signal is stronger in Dean Campbell’s office than across the hall in the Student Success Center. Dean Camp- bell said, “[It’s] embarrassing that my office has the best signal, but it also might have to do with the study center downstairs.” The Honors study center is located below Dr. Campbell’s office and has strong signal but is not a general-use connection.

Michael Hernandez, a second year Liberal Arts Major at Mercer, said, “It’s terrible. Most of the time, I can’t even connect to it. Right here in this office, SC118.”

Not every student share the same opinion. David Schupsky, first year Computer Programming, says “ Videos can take a little long sometimes but I would say the connection is fine.” Schupsky uses the Wi-Fi twice a week and always in the cafeteria.

Susan Bowen told The VOICE, “Since the article was last written, we generally have been adding wireless as we do con- struction or renovation projects. So, since that time, [2009] we’ve added Wi-Fi access in the student center… in the library, we do have it in the JKC eatery now, which it was not there before, and the brand new commons that was put up.”

When asked about the costs of installing Wi-Fi through- out the both West Windsor and James Kerney campuses, Bowen said, “to do all that, it’s a little over $400,000. That includes installing wireless access points and making sure that the network infrastructure on the back end can support that.”

Bowen has made it clear that the college will not expand the networks until it has the money to connect both campuses.

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