Like thousands of other students, Marissa Kasper returned to campus on Monday excited to tackle the fall semester.
But Kasper immediately confronted an unforeseen problem: the Wi-Fi across campus was either down or slower than usual, making it rather difficult to access syllabi, UBLearns and other necessary technologies.
“I usually take notes on my laptop for some of my classes on Google Docs and put them in certain folders to keep them organized,” Kasper, a junior music performance major, said. “I couldn’t even get on Google to take notes, let alone look at any of my syllabi for my first and second day of classes. I also need to talk to my advisor about getting overridden [placed] into a class but haven’t been able to do that because I can’t even make an appointment.”
Kasper suspected her computer was the culprit and thought she would have to file a complaint with UB Information Technology.
Hundreds of other students beat her to the punch.
UBIT has received 328 complaints of Wi-Fi connectivity issues on North Campus since Thursday, 300 of which were filed on Monday and Tuesday alone.
“While the increased traffic was a factor, the wireless network is more than adequate for the volume of people connecting at UB,” according to a statement from UBIT. “It appears the volume exacerbated other issues [which] may have now been identified and corrected. UBIT is monitoring closely to confirm this is the case.”
The university’s networks haven’t seen this much traffic since UB transitioned to online learning in March 2020.
Wi-Fi connection returned for most students shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, although it remains unclear whether the problem is solved for good.
According to UBIT staff members, parts of the Academic Spine and certain halls in the Ellicott Complex appeared to be most affected, but the department couldn’t “definitively say” whether any parts of North Campus remained unaffected. The Spectrum has received reports of problems in Greiner Hall, Flint Village, South Lake Village and the CFA. UBIT says it hasn’t received any complaints regarding Wi-Fi connectivity issues from students at the university’s South and Downtown campuses.
The lack of Wi-Fi was especially evident in the Silverman Library, where dozens of students all experienced problems at once.
“There were several people standing in line in an attempt to get help from the UBIT services, [and] multiple people resorting to hotspots for internet access,” Monica Cortes, a sophomore aerospace and mechanical engineering major and Silverman library employee, said. “Less people came to the library [on] the second day of network issues.”
Cortes noted that she and fellow library staff also dealt with connectivity issues at various points during the first half of the week.
Emily Bianchi, a sophomore graphic design major and secretary of UB’s LGBTA Club, was “trying to communicate with the other e-board members about future meetings,” but could only get a “very slow” connection on her phone from UB Connect, a network designed to get students connected to the university’s eduroam network.
As a result, “none of [my] messages were sending,” Bianchi said.
Many of the university’s clubs are trying to organize their first in-person meetings since the beginning of the pandemic.
Failing Wi-Fi hit students in completely online courses, which make up about 17% of the university course catalog, the hardest.
Hannah Krull, a sophomore majoring in sociology and global gender studies, was 20 minutes late to her statistics class because she couldn’t connect to the Zoom meeting.
“I spent the entire time trying to connect with little success,” Krull said. “I missed the introduction to the class and part of the syllabus review.”
Daysia Augustin, a sophomore neuroscience major, had similar problems attending her organic chemistry class over Zoom.
“I had to rush to figure out how to connect to a hotspot instead of just using the Wi-Fi that is supposed to be provided for us,” Augustin said. “Thankfully, most of my classes were just reviewing the syllabus for the day so I don’t feel like I missed any actual course content for future classes.”
Augustin also said she was “glad that the issue has been resolved,” but noted that it was still “just a little slow.”
Grant Ashley is a senior news/features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Grant Ashley is an assistant features editor for The Spectrum. He is a political science major and a (mediocre) Spanish minor. He enjoys taking long bike rides and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon.