Students demand more wireless internet, says survey

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Most students already have laptops, want more wireless Internet on campus and think the current service and coverage isn’t good enough, according to a survey of 1,942 students just released by the Students’ Association.

Armed with the survey results, SA President Alex Halbach said he and other senators recently met with Mike Adelaine, SDSU chief information technology officer, and Mike Reger, executive vice president of administration, to push for expanded coverage.

Halbach said he’s considering pushing for a per-credit technology fee increase to raise money for wireless access improvements. He said the survey, spearheaded by himself and SA Vice President Kat Brandtjen, was key to proving more students want more wireless Internet.

“Kat and I have been getting wireless comments for years, but to take that to anyone and get something accomplished you need hard facts,” he said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

SDSU currently has wireless coverage in all residence halls and common areas of several buildings across campus.

SDSU is the only public university in the state to not have a plan to cover classrooms with wireless Internet, according to an August technology survey report issued by the South Dakota Board of Regents.

Tech-focused Dakota State University and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology are already 100 percent wireless in all their classrooms. The University of South Dakota plans to cover the entire campus within five years. Black Hills State University and Northern State University plan to upgrade as much as they can afford each year.

In an email response, Mike Adelaine, SDSU’s chief information technology officer, said some specifics of the questions for the BOR report kept him from being able to say that SDSU has a plan to get wireless in all classrooms.

But he said that for three years, SDSU has had “a set of guidelines that allows for wireless access to be added to existing, or incorporated into, new academic buildings.”

Robert Fourney, an electrical engineering professor who has worked with Internet security, said it’s no surprise that students want more wireless on campus. He said wireless Internet is becoming a given on campuses across the nation.

“These days it’s like electricity and plumbing,” he said. “You kind of expect that buildings on campus would have wireless access.”

Almost two out of three students own their own laptops and slightly more than that number consider wireless Internet as a top-three concern for campus. Over 75 percent of students think wireless is somewhat or very important.

Only one percent of students think the wireless Internet service on campus is excellent. And only one in five students think wireless Internet service on campus is excellent or good.

The survey of 1,942 students – almost a quarter of the campus student body, said Halbach – was conducted in December of 2005.

He said he’s sure students’ strong feelings about the issue are accurately shown by the survey results.

“You can’t argue with them,” he said.

The survey was paid out of the SA’s printing budget. It was sent to classes with 50 students or more.

#1.884226:3497781055.jpg:WirelessFilePhoto.jpg:A student uses wireless internet in the library in this undated file photo. The library is one of the several common areas with wireless internet.: