Every semester students pay fees on top of tuition costs at the College of Charleston. Sophomores, juniors and seniors pay a $50 Library Fee plus an $85 Technology Fee. Freshman only pay a $65 Technology Fee. Some students aren’t even aware that these additional fees are lumped into their student e-Bills with tuition, housing and meal plans. But those who are aware want reassurance that they aren’t dishing out the cash in vain.
In recent years, the College has made several noticeable changes in its tech services. Within the past four years, the College made the switch from CougarTrail to MyCharleston, provided every student with a campus Gmail account, added wireless Internet in the residence halls and installed wireless printing in designated areas on campus.
However, is this “Technology Fee” based on quantity rather than quality? Has the College been dishing out “improvements” that are hindering students more than helping us advance? The CisternYard News staff wonders if it’s worth having Oaks as a resource that connects you to your professors and peers in the classroom if the system shuts down sporadically throughout the semester. We’re wondering how many students can actually access wireless printing since it is incompatible with the newest model of MacBooks, and how this contributes to the crowds in the library computer labs. We also wonder if a student center with wireless Internet is worthwhile if students have trouble connecting their laptops to Wi-Fi in every corner of the building.
At the recent Student Town Hall, President George Benson and his executive team tried to mollify student concerns surrounding campus Internet services. “We knew that we had issues, we knew that we had problems,” Benson said. “Our infrastructure is simply out of date, and updating it is going to cost millions of dollars.”
We would assume that the $65 to $85 “Technology Fee” from each of the College’s 10,000 plus students could contribute to the cost of improving our technology issues. We hope that our parents’ money and money that we take out in loans, scholarships and grants is going to exactly to what we’re being charged for. We hope that the administration is taking some responsibility to ensure that we’re getting exactly what we pay for at the College.
While we wait every day, every week and every semester for more improvements to our Internet service, we try to utilize the tech support we have available to us currently. Students have the IT Helpdesk to guide them through their technical difficulties between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Friday and 2 to 10 p.m. on weekends. Outside of IT business hours, we’re stuck calling the Apogee automated system: Apogee being the company that provides the Cougar ResNet Wi-Fi system. Even with this assistance, problems often prevail because they are caused by network glitches outside of anyone’s control.
Despite these issues, we have good reason to hope that the Internet service will improve based on the rapid rate of past progress and the new fund created by the executive team for improving Internet services. In the next few years, we hope to find reliable Internet acces for all computers, regardless of model or location. Ethernet cords will permanently become a thing of the past, and the College will finally be caught up to the 21st century. Although we might have all graduated by the time this is finally achieved, it never hurts to dream.