By Alex Borowicz
As the term exhales its final waking breaths into the snow-filled December air, students scramble to finish final papers and senior projects. Besides the late nights, slippery walkways, and myriad of distractions, Antioch students face one obstacle that has been plaguing the school for months: feeble internet speed that leaves all community members fighting for their own chunk of cyberspace.
Not 10 years ago, before the heydays of file sharing, Antioch was the proud owner of a T1 connection that brought internet to students, staff, faculty, and administrators. T1 lines are capable of transmitting at speeds of 1.5 megabytes per second for both uploading and downloading. These days however, speeds have fallen to merely a fraction of their former rates. Even with the proliferation of the internet and its increased accessibility, Antioch College has been reduced to around half that speed, suggesting that perhaps the college is now being given only a partial T1 line.
This has had a resounding impact upon the academic operations of the school now that many students use the internet and various online resources in place of the books and periodicals in the library. Associate Professor Chris Hill, whose numerous computer problems have caused her to stop using her office computer for much more than email, has noticed the problems in her classes. “I’ve heard it enough from my students,” Hill said. “It’s been an issue aside from assignments. I’ve had students who are really frustrated and having problems sending files.”
Indeed, Carol Braun, Antioch’s media arts technician related a story in which Anne Bohlen, associate professor of film and communications, was trying to download an image for use during a class, but ended up having more trouble than anticipated due to the slow speed. “Imagine being in a class and trying to get something like that to work,” Braun said.
Students have been voicing their own annoyance with the state of the internet at Antioch. Tasia Karoutsos, a first-year student, was working on an assignment for an art history course when she encountered one of many internet speedrelated snags. “It took me an hour and a half to make a 16-image study guide,” she said, clearly incredulous. Michael Black, another first-year, brought up a different point. “Not everyone can afford a cell phone,” Black said. “If we don’t have the internet, we can’t contact people and it’s a lot easier to sign up for classes online than by conventional means.”
One reason for the reduction in speed that has been suggested is the recent move of the Antioch McGregor campus to the new building across town. The new Campus West may be boasting as much as a 15 megabyte per second connection. The fact that the college servers and the McGregor campus have been disconnected from the college campus and sent across town leaves little reason to maintain the higher speed connections to the college, leaving Antioch College, once again, struggling to make the best with resources only considered leftovers from the university.
Regardless of the reasons for the change, college community members remain stuck with inferior internet service, making academic life a struggle as learning and research increasingly incorporate technology. Matt Baya, an alumnus and one of the webmasters of www.antiochians.org, tried to put the disparity in context. “For reference’s sake,” he writes, “my cable modem up here in backwoods Maine gets 5MB/second as a download rate and 250KB/second of upload.”
Braun points to the old renewal plan as a former bastion of hope for technology at Antioch. “The technological stuff was really exciting,” she said, citing such factors as a laptop for each student as a push towards better technological resources at the college. “They made all these promises, and now things are worse than they were before.”