Opinion | Wi-Fi outage was detrimental for students

The Wi-Fi outage at the UI revealed how reliant many classes have become on the ability to use the Internet.

Peter Anders, Opinions Contributor

On March 13, the entire University of Iowa campus suffered a Wi-Fi outage that lasted from around 2 p.m. to midnight. The responses to this have been all over the map, as some professors found their entire class operations crippled.

Many courses, such as my introduction to computer science class, didn’t change deadlines because of the technical difficulties that weren’t our fault.

The homework we had assigned couldn’t be downloaded from ICON, the UI’s course system, and the lecture videos we used as reference were now inaccessible. As someone who works on the weekends, I set aside specific blocks of time to do homework so I can work my shifts on the weekends. Without Wi-Fi for 10 hours, that time was cut short.

Deadlines remained the same, and students were forced to get creative in order to get access to the internet. It goes without question that the quality of work likely suffered as a result of being cut off from the resources the internet provides.

If the university is going to insist on moving forward with being more tech-centric, then they have to be willing to be more flexible in courses that have such a reliance on it. I used my cellular carrier plan, and it did help to some extent to help mitigate the damage done by this. But everyone using those at once clogged them to the point of being unusable, leaving me back at square one. Plus, not all students have a plan that allows hotspots.

An unwillingness to understand that not all students have these extra resources at their disposal when the university Wi-Fi is inaccessible seems wholly misguided at best and ignorant at worst.

There is indeed an argument to be made that students should be turning in their assignments well ahead of time in cases of technical difficulties, but students should not have to worry about not being able to turn in an assignment for 10 hours because of an issue not in their control.

UI sophomore Grace Spellman was among those impacted by the Wi-Fi outage.

“I wasn’t able to get my homework or lab report done but luckily it didn’t impact my grades,” Spellman said. “I would say it really derailed my plans for that day at most, but I know two of my friends had to have exams and meetings rescheduled when it happened. I will clarify; I did finish all my assignments later though.”

Amna Haider, a UI student who works as a Catlett Resident Assistant, was lucky to avoid the situation by being away from the residence halls at the time, but if she hadn’t it would’ve greatly affected her.

“I was not in the dorms when the Wi-Fi outage happened but it would have been extremely detrimental if I was as all assignments I possibly could have are turned in online,” Haider said.

The issue of dependency on the internet is also a societal problem admittedly, and maybe giving students an incentive to be creative in problem-solving these issues is good preparation for the outside world. But, for the tuition students pay, the last thing they should have to worry about is falling behind in their courses because their internet was taken offline, and the course’s schedules are not flexible enough to take that into account.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.