The Internet: A Binding Force

Devin Weil
"I like having information at my fingertips," said an Academic Connections student, Aja Canyon. The Internet plays a strong role in students’ lives at Academic Connections (AC) in that they rely on the Internet for communication, information and resources. Attaining Internet access is an arduous process that has led to a lot of frustration for many AC students at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

How to Get Connected

AC students go through a long process to receive an open Internet connection. In order for students to connect, they must complete a number of tasks. First, they must go to the convenience store, El Mercado, pay a fee of $10 to receive a username and password for Residential Internet (ResNet), and then buy a ten dollar Ethernet cord at the UCSD book store. Finally, students must take a survey. "You shouldn't be required to take a quiz in order to get Internet," said AC student, Nathalie Gomez. "It sucks. It makes me mad that it isn't all wireless. It's dumb you have to buy an Ethernet cable," said Aja Canyon.

Why the Internet is Important

The frustrations of many AC students with the Internet at UCSD highlights the value and importance the system holds for them. For many students, the Internet is a place to connect with family and friends at home. Nathalie Gomez said, "I can communicate with people internationally over the internet. I don't need to call them."
Not only does the Internet provide an inexpensive means for communication, it also serves as a source of entertainment and information. AC students seek web sites like Youtube, Google and Facebook/Myspace for entertainment, information and communication. Aja Canyon said, "Anytime I don't know something, I just Google it." Cynthia Zhuang said, "Myspace allows me to keep in touch with my friends and rediscover friends I haven't talked to or seen in a long time."
AC students expressed the various sites and aspects they would miss without access to the Internet. Some people described how they would miss the entertaining value of the Internet. Cynthia Zhuang said, "I would miss computer games, Facebook and entertaining myself on Youtube."

The Brighter Side of ResNet

Although Internet access is, at times, hard for students to obtain, the Academic Computing Service (ACS) is solving connection problems around campus. They help any student with computer problems. The ACS staff is comprised of a ResNet group that is informed on Internet problems pertaining to the students.
In order to obtain a job in ACS individuals go through a difficult training process. Chuck Rose, a staff member at ACS, said, "To work for ResNet, one must go through a lengthy interview, a two hour test working on a broken computer and 42 hours of intensive training." After that Chuck says, "They learn from their experience."
According to Chuck, there is an Ethernet port available to every student along with wireless connection in most of the resident halls. ResNet continues to connect over 26,000 students in UCSD under one large network.

Moving Forward

The Internet unites AC students at UCSD for numerous reasons: communication, schoolwork and entertainment. Students and faculty at UCSD, along with summer visitors such as AC students, are constantly attached to the Internet. ACS workers are gradually bringing solutions to the Internet troubles of AC students. By next year, ACS plans to have most of the Internet struggles under control. This summer they have been reaching out to to numerous AC students with connection problems. “I scheduled an appointment with someone because my Internet wouldn’t work. They helped a lot,” said Nathalie Gomez.

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