The WSU Vancouver IT department addresses students’ Wi-Fi concerns

The quality of campus Wi-Fi has been a growing concern among Washington State University Vancouver students. Many students have commented that network connections are weak and that they are booted off the network frequently. New Chief Information Officer Michael Stamper and Manager of Network and Telcom Services Chuck Harrsch are in the process of installing new technologies that will make campus Wi-Fi accessible, reliable and consistent.

Stamper has been working with WSU Vancouver administration to identify the immediate concerns regarding Wi-Fi and how to properly resolve these issues.

“We emailed students and faculty members asking them to complete a TechQual+ survey asking for feedback and we had over 300 responses” Stamper said and continued, “No surprise, Wi-Fi is one of the biggest pain points for technology. The survey is helping us determine which pain points are the most important for students. We received hundreds of comments on the surveys answering questions such as: what’s wrong with the Wi-Fi? Are signals not strong enough? Do you get a signal in some buildings but not others? And these comments are really helping us find out what students’ major issues are.”

The results from these surveys are still being analyzed and will be announced to WSU Vancouver students by the end of spring semester. The Vancouver campus is the first Washington State University campus to utilize the TechQual+ survey and Stamper mentioned it is a possibility that the Spokane campus will issue the survey to their students as well.

Stamper works with student organizations such as ASWSUV and faculty groups to gather further information regarding student Wi-Fi concerns. “We are looking for some quick wins, things we can do to immediately help at the time that the survey results are published. We hope to publish an action plan along with the results to ensure students that their voice is heard and changes will be made.” Stamper continued and said, “Students want Wi-Fi that simply works and is seamless… a Wi-Fi that remembers you were here yesterday so that you do not have to continuously log on, much like your at-home Wi-Fi network, and we are working to give them that.”

Early analysis of the TechQual+ survey shows that students have identified buildings on campus where Wi-Fi connections are weak. These areas include the lower level of the VMMC building, VDEN and the new ENC building. The number of access points in the VMMC building was doubled over winter break in order to increase Wi-Fi connections. One of Stamper’s and Harrsch’s goals is to make a roadmap of the campus noting current access points and forecasting future places for access points where they are needed most.

Stamper said that the IT department could benefit from having a student-led technology advisory board to express student opinions regarding technology on campus, and hinted that having such a board is a possibility for the future. “I want to create a culture of two-way communication [between IT] and students and it’s something to be encouraged. We want open feedback at all times.”

Students can direct any questions, comments and concerns regarding Wi-Fi to Michael Stamper at michael.d.stamper@vancouver.wsu.edu or Chuck Harrsch at harrsch@vancouver.wsu.edu. Students can also stop by the IT offices located in the Classroom building (VCLS) room 219.

Featured photo credit: Laura Evancich

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