Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Letter: UMass leadership is responsible for fixing wireless issues

Collegian File Photo
(Collegian File Photo)

To the editor,

Last semester I had the incredible privilege and pleasure of studying in China with the Alliance for Global Education, funded in part by generous scholarships provided by University of Massachusetts alumni. My host institution, the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (henceforth SUFE), is highly regarded in China.

This past year, it was reported to have received the highest number of early admission applications in the country. Despite its prestige, SUFE, along with the vast majority of Chinese universities, lags behind American schools like UMass when it comes to student life. Dormitories (for Chinese students, not privileged foreigners) are atrocious and overcrowded.

Dining selections on campus are minimal. I suspect that most classrooms haven’t been refurbished for decades. This isn’t at all surprising given China’s rank on the UN’s Human Development Index (91 as of 2013). But when it comes to one of the most essential tools for education in the modern age, access to the Internet, SUFE’s infrastructure is first-rate.

Not once did I ever find myself struggling for a signal on a campus of 13,000 students in a relatively poor country.

You can imagine my disappointment when I returned to the United States, by far the richest society in world history, to find that the Wi-Fi on our campus had not only not improved, but in fact degenerated further.

I noticed that the OIT webpage reported Sept. 17 that it was “investigating” reports of slow access. If this were a new problem, then one might be able to overlook these past two weeks of horrendous connectivity. But this is not a new problem, and in fact has been an ongoing issue since I stepped foot on this campus in 2012.

After the botched roll-out of eduroam last year and the introduction of a new fee, ostensibly to support internet services, the Wi-Fi on campus is worse than ever before.

The university’s Wi-Fi has long been the butt of jokes among the students, but in truth, this is no laughing matter. Internet access is so essential to education and commerce in the modern age that I don’t even need to discuss it, yet even as I write this email, the Wi-Fi is practically unusable.

To call this unacceptable would be a huge understatement.

Because I don’t know exactly what the problem is, I can’t point the finger at one particular cause. I doubt the blame lies with OIT employees, who in my experience have always exhibited competence and professionalism. Perhaps the problem is that our government allocates a disgracefully low sum to fund public higher education.

But given the plethora of construction projects on campus, one wonders why the University chose to allocate scarce funds to new capital projects without paying much attention to upgrading invisible but crucial infrastructure such as internet access.

As members of the top leadership of this campus, ultimately you are responsible for fixing a problem that impacts the productivity of your students in a meaningful way. Please feel free to forward this email to whomever you feel should view it.


Michael Berner, class of 2016

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 22, 2015 at 9:49 am

    @Guest. It’s “paranoid” until something like Beslan happens.

    Political correctness is going to get people killed.

  • G

    GuestSep 21, 2015 at 11:33 pm

    David, your comment is on the wrong article, but that logic is nonsensical and your lack of empathy is abhorrent. Your comparison of this innocent child to Muslim extremists simply because of their religion is exactly the kind of bigotry the president was trying to send a message about.

    There’s no doubt the kid who was suspended for the pop-tart thing was treated unfairly. However, that story is not on the same scope. It’s a poor decision by a paranoid school administration that won’t happen on a national level. Islamaphobia is a national issue, and your bigoted and all-too-common response shows exactly why.

  • A

    AlexSep 21, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    Loaded this page with sub dial up speed courtesy of eduroam and OIT

  • T

    ThomasSep 21, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I suggest an experiment. For one day let’s all stop using wi-fi for non-educational, non-essential things like, TV, movies, RPG, youtube distractions, watching sports, etc. Let’s see how much improvement there is in the wi-fi performance for the essential uses that remain.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Did the school overreact? Possibly. But… “If you see something, say something.”

    By all accounts of multiple detailed examinations, this boy did NOT “make” a clock. He took a vintage electronic clock, took it apart, put it in a case, and brought it to school. He apparently acted evasively when responding to questions, among many other inconsistencies in his story with the alleged claim of wanting to show it off to a teacher.

    Now, of course, the lesson is simple: a kid with an Islamic name will NEVER be stopped no matter what. Up until someone actually builds a bomb. And detonates it. Then will come the hue and cry of “Why wasn’t it stopped?” and “How come nobody said anything?”

    With tens of thousands of documented terrorist attacks across the world by people with one factor in common – being a Muslim – one senses a potential pattern that must be considered. Does this mean that all Muslims are terrorists? No, no, by no means NO!

    But in these days when a kid chews a pop tart into the shape of a gun and gets suspended, among myriad other examples of WHITE kids getting such zero-tolerance treatment – surely an understanding for a little prudence is called for.

    One of these days it’s not going to be a false alarm. One of these days we really ARE going to have a mass shooting in a mall with the shooters screaming “Allah Akhbar!” as they did in Kenya, or slaughtering their way through a school…. except I suspect that even with video of the Islamic war cry as they do it, the oikophobes / xenophiles such as this author will, doubtless, not lay blame but will become pretzels trying to explain it away.