Wi-Fi. Why not?

Access to wireless internet connectivity on Mercer’s campus is constantly available to students and faculty via the SSID’s (Service Set Identifiers) MU-Student and MU-Secure.

This access requires a web authentication client where users plug in their corresponding student/faculty ID and password.

Recently, reports of sluggish internet speeds and occasional server errors have plagued the student body and have caused Mercerians to switch to alternative methods to stay connected.

One of the well-known and simplest alternatives is the use of personal wireless routers; simply install, configure through a laptop, and instantly stream Wi-Fi throughout the room.

The only downside to utilizing a personal router is that it conflicts with a statement in Section 3 of the Housing Handbook that states, “Wireless routers are prohibited in all residential facilities.”

The MU-Student bandwidth is constantly allocated campus-wide to multitudes of devices resulting in poor speeds, and almost no response to servers at times. Due to this, wireless routers are currently commonplace in residence halls.

Mercer Hall residents recently received an email from Nate Swann, area coordinator of residence life, requesting the discontinuation of the use of personal routers; noncompliance would result in “judicial charges.”

It is unfair to students to be issued an indirect search warrant for personally bought devices.

It is also unfair to the student when MU-Student is down due to maintenance or server errors, for internet based work will have to be submitted another day.

It is fact that personal routers allow unsecured access to the internet because it bypasses the Web Authorization Client, and routers interfere with campus Wi-Fi. However, if students password protect their routers, utilize WPA2 encryption and operate on different Wi-Fi channels, interference and security should not be a problem.

If interference is the main reason for the prohibition of personal routers, keep in mind that many other common objects and devices can interfere with Wi-Fi; studies have shown that microwave ovens, Bluetooth devices, cordless phones and even a dense population of human bodies (in extreme cases) can contribute to an interference in Wi-Fi. Should these be prohibited as well?