This story was originally published in the April 20 print issue.
This spring semester, IT Services and Student Government declared that they had a plan to improve Mason’s Wi-Fi, but so far enhancements are yet to be seen.
On March 6, the Student Government University Services department made an announcement that they and the Network Engineering and Technology Department in IT Services would be simplifying Mason’s campus wireless network.
“On March 8th, between 7-11 a.m., changes will be made to Mason’s Wireless Network! Mason ResNet [and] Mason ResNet Secure will be removed from the network options,” Student Government posted on their Facebook.
Despite this effort to improve the Wi-Fi, some students like freshman Mariah Beck, a Government and International Politics major, say they have not noticed an improvement at all.
“In my opinion, Mason’s Wi-Fi was better before the conversion,” Beck said. “Since the switch I have noticed the Wi-Fi is slower or is not always available. I’m rarely able to access it from my room or when I’m walking around on campus.”
Students like freshman and Finance major Pooja Prabhudesai and freshman and Computer Science major Manil Trivedi agreed with Beck and said they have not noticed a difference in the Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi at Mason has long been a concern of students and faculty. As freshman and Business major Kristin Price points out, “When you google George Mason University the first reviews that come up are about the Wi-Fi.”
Some students like freshman and Business major Kristin Price said they have even had issues with the Wi-Fi to the point that it has interfered with them turning in assignments.
“I wasn’t able to turn in an assignment on time and didn’t get a grade for it because the professor doesn’t take late work,” Price said.
Prabhudesai had a similar experience with turning in an assignment late because the Wi-Fi was not working.
“I was unable to turn in a paper due to the constant lag in the Wi-Fi and trying to find information to write the paper was also difficult as the Wi-Fi kept on disconnecting and connecting or not loading at all,” Prabhudesai said.
Marilyn T. Smith, vice president for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, said she wants to apologize for the inconvenience the Wi-Fi has caused students.
“I am aware that we have been experiencing interruptions in the Wi-Fi network over the past month or so. [IT Services] wants to apologize for any inconvenience this has caused, and we continue to work on it to get the best service for Mason that we can,” Smith said.
Michael Sandler, director of Strategic Communications, added that some of the reasons the Wi-Fi has been so bad in the last month is not for the reasons many people expect.
“One of the reasons why there has been some problems with the Wi-Fi is because [IT Services has] been taking steps to make the system more secure, and partly because of some of the incidents we’ve had over the last year,” Sandler said.
Smith added that the recent disruptions have not been due to the simplification of the network on March 8, but rather for the reasons Sandler gave.
Smith continued that the partnership between IT Services and Student Government will be a way to hopefully improve the Wi-Fi and she and Student Government are excited about the partnership.
Tanny Das, the undersecretary of University Services for Information Technology, said that so far Student Government and IT Services have already started to implement new changes to improve the Wi-Fi. She continued that the two groups meet regularly to talk about the concerns students have and to try to find solutions to their concerns.
“Last week, our student senate passed Resolution 32 ‘A Resolution to Support the Funding of Student Services at George Mason University,’ which recommended that the funding allotted to student services be adequately appropriated to reflect the continually evolving needs of current and future students. Additionally, we passed a bill allocating funds for the purchase of an outdoor wireless access point,” Das said via email.
Smith also said they have taken recent measures to better the Wi-Fi. She continued that she knows she and IT Services can’t guarantee there won’t be any more problems but they are hoping that with the recent changes there won’t be any more disruptions between now and the end of finals.
“We’re taking additional measures and I have every confidence that we have the right group of people working on this. The students are doing a good job of putting pressure [on us], as they should be because they expect service and they should have those expectations,” Smith said.
Despite their frustration, students still remain hopeful that the Wi-Fi will improve.
“I feel like having hope in people is a big thing to push them towards success. So, a big part of me does believe that they will succeed. Realistically, they might need a lot more help, but it definitely is possible,” Prabhudesai said.
Freshman and Computer Science major Roshan Mirajkar agreed with Prabhudesai but added that he wants to see IT Services put their words into action.
“I am glad they have plans on making [the Wi-Fi] better but words are just words until they execute their plan. For now, I am looking at a positive outlook that they recognize their Wi-Fi doesn’t live up to the standards, and they are fixing it,” Mirajkar said.
Smith wanted to let the students know that she hopes they will be patient with IT Services and thanked them for the patience they have already shown.
“I would ask them to be patient with us as we work out the issues and thank them for their patience,” Smith said. “To add to that, [I want to] tell them I’m really delighted about this partnerships with Student Government and I hope we can continue to work closely together.”
Illustration Credit: Laura Baker