Potential student fee would include TigerWiFi updates

Students can vote to update MU’s Wi-Fi system in March through the Student Services Enhancement Fee.
Photo illustration.

The Division of Student Affairs has proposed an update to TigerWiFi through the Student Services Enhancement Fee, which will be on the ballot in March.

If passed, the fee would implement a $35 charge to each student per semester, $5 of which would be directed toward expanding Wi-Fi and technology services. The remaining $30 would go to MU’s libraries, counseling center, leadership and service programs, student unions and other campus activities.

“Essentially, the student enhancement fee is a response to a satisfaction survey that was taken last April,” said Okey Ukaga, the student communications coordinator for the fee. “It incorporates a lot of different areas on campus that basically needed maintenance.”

On the technological side, the money would be directed toward improvements in TigerWiFi speed, especially in high-density areas such as the Student Center, Memorial Union and Stankowski Field.

“By redesigning for density, we would allow more clients to perform bandwidth-intensive tasks simultaneously without negatively impacting each other,” said Bryan Roesslet, Division of Information Technology associate vice president and chief technology officer.

These updates would impact the activities the wireless system is built to handle.

“Streaming a movie, for instance, uses many more resources than browsing the web,” Roesslet said. “The current design targets ubiquity — coverage of as much of the usable interior space as possible. If we were to receive additional funding to address the user comments we receive, we would redesign the coverage of the seating area to facilitate density to the extent allowed by the additional funding.”

The current system cannot match the level of activity, resulting in the slow internet connections students experience. This is especially clear around noon on Wednesdays, when activity levels peak, Roesslet said.

“I do feel like there needs to be a lot of improvement so that those aren’t excuses to why students can’t complete their work or function in an academic setting,” Ukaga said.

The idea to improve MU’s internet accessibility, as well as the chosen amount to fund the modifications, was a result of a student survey randomly distributed last April.

“Essentially [the responses] mostly centered around Wi-Fi. That was obviously the main concern currently. It’s slow and terrible,” Student Fee Review Committee Chairman Bill Vega said.

Vega said the money would also aid in infrastructure and software updates such as airplay and “smart technology.”

“The technology piece of the fee would generate $275,000 per year,” SFRC staff adviser Alysha O’Neil. “The needs far exceed what the fee can provide, but the $5 can make an impact in the areas with the highest density of students.”

Although there have been many operational updates to the Wi-Fi system, the system hasn’t been replaced since summer 2015. If passed, the Student Enhancement Fee would go into effect this fall.

Edited by Emily Gallion | egallion@themaneater.com

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