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Waiting for WiFi expansion at Mercer

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Mercer has the seventh largest enrollment of the 19 community colleges in New Jersey, according to Community College Review, yet Mercer is smaller than community colleges such as Warren County Community College, Cumberland County Community College, and the County College of Morris all of which have a wireless internet (Wi-Fi) network larger than Mercer’s.

“[Mercer] needs to expand the Wi-Fi like so many other schools.  Students need to be online all over campus and it feels like nothing is being done,” said Brian Harris, a second year Liberal Arts student.

Harris’s wishes will soon become at least a partial reality, Wi-Fi internet at Mercer will be expanding its availability to the newly renovated library in May. “The library will have Wi-Fi throughout,” says Susan Bowen, Executive Director for Information and Technology Services at Mercer.  “The Student Center and Library will be linked together so Wi-Fi will be in both buildings now,” Bowen adds.

“[Wi-Fi at Mercer] has been very successful.  Anywhere from 100-125 different devices are connected during the course of the day in the Student Center,” says Bowen.

However, some students have found some problems with the Wi-Fi connection.  “Usually I have no problems connecting [to the Mercer Wi-Fi network in the Student Center], but sometimes I can’t connect or I lose connection on my laptop,” said James Burton, a second year Criminal Justice major. He adds, “it can be very frustrating.”

Bowen agreed that problems can always occur, but said that the Wi-Fi spots on campus are “fairly consistent…There are usually no problems, but we have maintenance people checking and testing the system all the time.”

Bowen notes that a larger Wi-Fi expansion is being considered but isn’t yet under way. She says the ITS department is working on a strategic plan for all their activities.  “One of the initiatives cited in this plan is to increase wireless communications on campus within the next three years” Bowen says. She goes on to note, however, that “a specific plan has not been laid out at this time.  This will be determined by an assessment, funding and an expressed need by the faculty and students.”

“Having Wi-Fi throughout campus would be great.  Being able to e-mail my teacher an assignment in class would save me a lot a trouble” says student James Burton. If and when the ITS department conducts a study of student and faculty Wi-Fi needs they will be able to determine if Burton’s desire to see the wireless network expanded is a prevalent one.w

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