When construction on I-25 and Highway 34 damaged fiber lines feeding internet to UNC, the university was forced to fall back on their secondary service to supply the campus with connectivity. While usable, the internet at UNC is still struggling to keep up with campus demands.
In an email blast sent out by the Office of Information and Management Technology, Chief Information Officer Bret Naber said that they are still exploring ways to add bandwidth to their backup solution, a process which has left many UNC students like undeclared freshman Maura Calahan frustrated. Calahan is a resident in Snyder Hall, and says that she’s worried how the lack of internet will affect her academics.
“It’ll definitely hurt my grades a little bit if I can’t access the internet from my dorm,” she said. “That could be an issue if I have a lot to get done.”
In an era where technology is the backbone of society, so much so that the United Nations considers internet access a human right, students like Calahan have to confront life without being plugged in, a process she says is something she’s still not used to.
“I think it’s become the way that the world is. We’re in a technological age where we all use it [the internet] to interconnect ourselves. It creates a more efficient society. I believe that it is very helpful in connecting us all,” she said.
Calahan was not alone in her sentiments. As the days drag on since the initial damage on Aug. 20, other students chimed in, such as Larissa Daniels, a senior working towards a double major in anthropology and criminal justice. Daniels, like Calahan, is living in one of the residence halls on campus. In her case, Turner.
She’s making do with her unlimited mobile data plan, but she says it’s not enough to be able to follow through with her academic obligations.
“There’s a book that I don’t actually have, that my teacher uploaded the first two chapters on the internet. It took me about two hours to actually load both chapters up,” Daniels said.
As a self-proclaimed 90s kid, Daniels remembers a time when the internet wasn’t as available as it is today. She says that we’re too reliant on the internet, but that’s just something we’re going to have to accept.
“I think we’re too reliant, but at the same time it’s such a big part of our lives now that we really can’t do much about it, except maybe be more patient with it. It’s something we’re just going to have to get used to,” she said.
Unlike Daniels or Calahan, Griffin Myers, an undeclared sophomore, had different thoughts on the matter.
“I never had a phone, so I couldn’t really relate to people who were married to their phones. But when I got one, I fell victim to the same thing – I became married to the phone. So I think it’s [the internet] a problem, but everyone has some sort of problem,” Myers said.
Myers, who is thinking of pursuing a major in geology or computer science, said that while it’s a problem for people who cannot connect to class resources, those who can’t connect to Netflix need to “get over it.”
“The problem of internet addiction is not black and white, because obviously we need it for some things, but people mostly use it as a distraction,” he said. “Students take it for granted, professors take it for granted. The internet going down could definitely present a problem for classwork, but for what people use it for, entertainment, distraction, if it goes down, yeah, get over it.”