All on-campus dorms to have wireless by fall

Liz Coffin-Karlin

All on-campus residences have wireless Internet access installed starting in Fall 2008, said William Banis, NU’s vice president for student affairs.

The university recently completed an engineering assessment and cost analysis of installing wireless capability. Wireless installation was the student affairs staff’s “top priority” for renovations this year, Banis said.

Associated Student Government and groups including the Undergraduate Budget Priority Committee have lobbied for all-campus wireless for the last several years.

“It’s great news for students, great news for the university,” said ASG President Jonathan Webber, a Weinberg senior. “Every year there are some increases in wireless (coverage) … there was the desire to wait as technology continues to improve and costs to decrease.”

The UBPC poll, presented to the administration in late February, listed universal wireless access as the No. 2 priority for students, behind Norris University Center renovations. Last year it was the committee’s first priority, so this year’s presentation in favor of the upgrade encompassed years of research from lobbying the administration.

“This is an issue we have been working on since 2001,” said Weinberg senior Jessica Wash, the committee’s chairwoman. “We are very happy with the administration’s commitment. This is a huge step towards improving student life.”

In their presentation this year, UBPC emphasized the differences between NU’s student services and those of peer institutions.

“Some students feel NU isn’t investing in them, unlike peer institutions,” said SESP senior Aneesa Arshad, a two-year member of UBPC. The fact that the upgrades will take place shows that “asking for something is worth it,” she said.

Last summer, the university finished installing fire safety upgrades in all the residence halls, leaving more funds available this year for upgrades focused on the “quality of life and cosmetic improvements that students want,” Banis said. The renovations will include new furniture and paint jobs for several residence halls. The price for the upgrades was added into the existing budget for summer upgrades.

“Every time we have presidents (of residence halls) ask their residents what they want, wireless is always the No. 1 thing,” said SESP sophomore Collin Johnson, president of the Residence Hall Association. “It’s good to hear what we’ve been discussing in our meetings moving forward.”

All residences will still have ethernet capability, so students will still be able to use the hard-wired Internet system available in their dorm rooms.

Wireless Internet access gives students more flexibility to study in the public areas of their residence halls, Banis said.

The technology the university will “have data and video capability,” Banis said. The wireless should be able to run NUTV and other broadcasts. No existing wireless services will be affected by the upgrade.

While the university aims to install all systems before Fall Quarter, adjustments will probably need to be made to the system as the year progresses, Banis said.

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