Proposed Internet fee too costly and unnecessary

Internet technology changes faster than you can download an mp3 file.

Less than a decade ago, a dial-up connection was considered a fast connection for home use. For most people these days, a moving turtle is faster.

Richard Kirchmeyer, vice president of Information Technology, has submitted a proposal to Housing and Residence Life to upgrade the Internet connection for “high speed, business-quality Internet access” in the dorms. Kirchmeyer, Brian Kuster, director of Housing and Residence Life, and John Bradley, Student Government Association president, said the dorms’ connection is not as fast as it should be.

The dorms currently share an Internet connection with departments on the main campus, extended campuses and the community college. This connection provides a connection at 30 megabits per second. If Kirchmeyer’s proposal is approved, dorms will have their own connection at 45 megabits per second.

Faster Internet sounds like a good idea, but not right now if students are the emptying their pockets to pay for it.

The proposal states that all dorm residents would pay $12 a month, or $108 a year, more in housing fees to cover an Internet access upgrade. Kirchmeyer said a fee is necessary because starting next year the state won’t pay for the current connection. We understand that it would be necessary for HRL to plan for some fee increases to cover the state’s cut.

But now isn’t the right time to charge even greater fees for an Internet upgrade. It’s not right to upgrade an already working Internet connection when some students are struggling to pay tuition or the university is struggling to operate the university with yearly budget cuts.

The connection may be a fuss at times, but that’s going to happen when you have hundreds of computers using it at the same time. Even at its worst, the current connection is still faster than anything students can get with their parent’s dial-up access at home. If a student used it when everyone goes home for the weekend, they might notice a sudden boost of speed.

Furthermore, a super fast connection is not required to browse the Web, check e-mail or chat on Instant Messenger, the activities that most students use the Internet for. A faster connection could enable students to download music and videos at faster speeds, but downloading such files is what’s clogging the system in the first place.

Theoretically, a faster connection for less computers might be faster, but students might have some of the same connection problems. Since multiple students still share one network, there might be some clog in the connection. A slow connection might be caused by other things such as a lack of computer memory or a slow computer processing unit.

HRL also needs to consider the financial situation of everyone involved. You wouldn’t ask your family to buy you a surround-sound home theater system when you already have a working DVD player and TV and the family’s broke. Likewise, if students are going to have to deal with higher tuition next year, it’s not fair to ask some of them to pay even more money in hopes of something that could be better, even if the current system, while imperfect, is still working. It’s also unreasonable to make all dorm residents pay for an upgrade they might not even use.

With budget cuts already occurring this fiscal year and more likely to come, Western has to prioritize what they can or what they cannot afford. HRL and Kirchmeyer should do the same.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 9-member board of student editors.