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Davis, California

Sunday, July 14, 2024

UC Davis must provide reliable Wi-Fi, technology infrastructure for students, staff

As most courses depend on technology, campus should provide the necessary resources




It might seem counterintuitive to publish an article online about the lack of Wi-Fi on UC Davis’s campus, as you likely have internet access via Wi-Fi if you are viewing this article (unless you are one of the few who still picks up print newspapers). It also seems silly to receive an email from UC Davis explaining the poor campus Wi-Fi. It goes to show the almost sole reliance we have on being able to connect to the internet in order to go about our daily lives — to read the news, receive campus announcements, submit assignments and more. 

While we have never been more dependent on internet access, save for the days of online instruction, Eduroam, the on-campus Wi-Fi, has been worse than usual lately. Many Editorial Board members have found themselves connecting to the UC Davis Guest network (despite not being guests, but paying students) or resorting to their mobile devices’ hotspots, and in extremely desperate times, even pulling out a pen and paper to write lecture notes. In the words of a previous Aggie staff member: “Edu has not been roaming.”

This is not only inconvenient for students and staff, but it is simply unacceptable when so much of our day-to-day lives relies on access to the internet. Tasks necessary for almost all classes on campus, like taking notes, accessing course Canvas pages and even opening the Bookshelf e-books that many students borrow through Equitable Access, require Wi-Fi. And, while proactive students might download notes, textbooks and Canvas PDFs for times when internet access is lost, other necessary functions, like hosting or joining Zoom meetings and even some methods of lecture capture, require Wi-Fi to work at certain times.

Further, not all students have access to reliable Wi-Fi at home. Some might count on Eduroam to be the Wi-Fi network they use when they have a Zoom interview or meeting, need to download a lengthy document or upload an assignment by its due date. It puts students whose only option is Eduroam at an unfair disadvantage when they have to deal with intermittent and unexpected outages. 

UC Davis’s IET (Information and Educational Technology) support department has suggested that people experiencing Wi-Fi outages on campus either connect to their mobile devices’ hotspots or find a wired connection location on campus to use. While they acknowledge that not all students have access to hotspots, it seems unfair to suggest this as a solution, given many students don’t have unlimited data plans or even a hotspot connected to their phones. As for wired-connection locations, many students — including members of the Editorial Board — are unsure of where to find these outlets and do not have the correct cables to connect to them. There are also not nearly enough of these connectors to serve the whole campus community; IET estimates 40,000 devices connect to campus Wi-Fi networks each day.

Aside from Wi-Fi, this points to a larger issue as professors integrate more and more technology into their curricula. While almost every student in most lecture halls, as well as in Shields Library and the Memorial Union, is using some kind of electronic device to do their work these days, our campus’s infrastructure seems to be behind the times. Most spaces on campus, aside from recently constructed or renovated buildings, don’t have enough easily available outlets for students to charge their devices. As our education becomes more reliant on technology, UC Davis must do better to make the campus a space where students can easily use the technology they need.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that IET stood for “Integrated Education and Technology,” when it is actually “Information and Educational Technology.” 

Written by: The Editorial Board