YSU Experiences Campuswide Wi-Fi Woes

By Alyssa Weston

Throughout the week, Youngstown State University students and staff have experienced issues connecting to Wi-Fi while on campus.

Rosalyn Donaldson, manager of YSU’s information technology services, issued two campuswide emails on Sept. 17 and 18 stating the following:

“We are experience an intermittent wireless network outage in various location across campus. Our technicians are working to restore services. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”

Ryan Geilhard, director of information technology infrastructure at YSU, said the current issues stem from a complication within the information technology department’s five year campuswide software refresh plan.

Geilhard said students who weren’t on campus before the plan was implemented in 2016 may not remember how reoccuring these wireless network issues were, which is what initially influenced the plan. 

“YSU’s got about 40 buildings, and what we decided to do was because you can’t refresh everything right away, we attempted to take a five year refresh plan for our 40 buildings. 

So, that means about eight buildings a year can be refreshed, which is about a building every 90 days,” Geilhard said.

The IT department was able to acquire the funding for the plan and has been ultimately successful until this bump in the road about 60% of the way to completion. 

In Geilhard’s opinion, the plan is the ultimate solution, but the department can only move so fast with the staff they have, which has decreased slightly since the plan initially took form in 2016.

Geilhard said ideally, the software would be completely replaced, but the same staff that would be assigned to that is the same staff currently working on fixing issues when the network is down. 

“It’s a matter of outrunning the problem,” he said. “It’s just such a large problem that isn’t able to be fixed overnight.

Many students shared their frustrations trying to connect to university Wi-Fi throughout the week. 

“Most of my textbooks are online. I can’t access them in class when I need them. Even when the Wi-Fi was ‘working,’ I had issues connecting in [the Beeghly College of Education],” Sabrina Morrison, sophomore middle childhood education major, said.

Morrison said she’s completed her weekly assignments at Taco Bell and wishes YSU would’ve sent out the emails addressing the issue sooner.

For freshman biology major Janae Seawright, living on campus in Kilcawley House has presented its own set of challenges when trying to navigate the Wi-Fi complications.

“[The Wi-Fi] only worked when I used the guest Wi-Fi instead of the Wi-Fi that’s for the residents, and if that didn’t work I had to use my data, which luckily is unlimited,” she said.

Additionally, the wireless network outage has caused obstacles in how classes have been prepared for this week.

Mykaela Wagner, a second year graduate student in biology, said as a teaching assistant, having access to her email and lecture materials on the cloud is a huge part of her job.

“I shouldn’t have to use my data plan on campus when Wi-Fi is structured into our tuition and fees. This has been an ongoing problem as long as I’ve been a student here,” she said. “It’s understandable that the demands on our network are large and hard to manage, but Wi-Fi isn’t something that we can just do without on any given day and go about normally.”

Geilhard said the wireless network outage bothers the IT department a great deal, and to him it’s one of the worst things to have happened.

“There’s never an excuse for outages like we’ve had recently,” he said. 

According to Geilhard, the majority of classrooms are wired so professors shouldn’t have difficulties connecting in the classroom.

Students can take advantage of on-campus computer labs rather than using personal hotspots for their laptops or going off campus to get work done.