Taking Steps Towards Student Wi-Fi

By Jessalyn Li
Over the past four years, Student Government has been working to accomplish two major goals: student e-mails and looser internet filters. In conjunction to these two technological aims, Student Government is working currently on another objective, student Wi-Fi. The addition of student Wi-Fi in all areas of the school is an indication of changing times and our efforts to keep up with them. On Long Island alone, a number of school districts have already installed student Wi-Fi, including Herricks, Syosset, and Manhasset.
However, Wi-Fi goes beyond keeping up with modern times. With student Wi-Fi, there would be equity for all students, regardless of their data plans or phone generation. Wi-Fi would allow students to access the web for resources; subsequently, there would be fewer students clogging up the library or computer labs.
As any issue, student Wi-Fi has its drawbacks, just as it has its advantages. The district’s concerns about Wi-Fi include security risks, broadband degradation, costs, equity issues, and policy changes. Currently, the solution to avoid these potential issues is grade-wide iPad usage for 9th graders next year and BOYD, bring your own device, that eases financial burdens on the district to purchase devices.
With all these matters, where are we in this quest for Wi-Fi? For the past four years, four different Presidents, Vice Presidents, and Student Government boards have been trying to get the Board of Education to move forward with the goal of student Wi-Fi. However, as Student Government President Melora Chang points out, the goal of student Wi-Fi was one piece of a three-part proposal, the other two being student e-mail and loosening internet filters. Student Government has been extremely successful in accomplishing these other two, and Melora conveys that she and the rest of the assembly would like to achieve their third goal.
Progress has definitely been made, says Mrs. Callaghan, the advisor for Student Government. She emphasizes that this is a long process, and we have just accomplished the first step. On November 21, Student Body President Melora Chang met with Mr. Epstein, the district technology director and liaison between our school and the Board of Education. They discussed the plan for student Wi-Fi, and Melora says that “this meeting with Mr. Epstein is a major step” towards making headway. This meeting was also the most important, because if Mr. Epstein disagrees with the proposal, it would be a while before the students can try again. If he agrees, however, he will take it up to the Board of Education where there will likely be further discussion, votes, and polls.
Luckily, Mr. Epstein was on board and supported the idea. At the meeting, such issues and possible solutions were discussed. The hacking and security threat could be resolved if a separate, private network within the school was created, said Student Government Treasurer Tina Pavlovich. A remedy for the system’s problematic overload could be the placement of hotspots around the school that reduce the possibility of overburden on the system.
Student Wi-Fi is still in its basic preliminary stages, but both Chang and Mrs. Callaghan believe that this is a good step in the right direction.