Despite student complaints, officials said they have no immediate plans to install high-speed Internet access in the West End or Pennsylvania House. Students living in the two residence halls are the only on-campus residents without Ethernet or cable modems.
Although students were informed about the residence halls’ lack of high-speed access, Resnet has already received about 30 complaints this year, said Alexa Kim, director for Student and Academic Support Services technology communications.
“We do our best to inform everybody, and I appreciate the argument that all residence halls should be equipped with high-speed access,” Kim said, “but what can I do? Money is the ultimate deciding factor.”
Wiring the West End would cost GW about $2 million, said Associate Director for Property Management Services Courtney Flaherty. She said that although funds for a project of this nature are available, the department must prioritize its facilities’ needs.
“Balancing student amenities with building facilities’ needs is very challenging,” she said.
Although no date for starting a project has been set, Flaherty said the chance that the West End will be wired in the future is “very good.” But students living in the Pennsylvania House should not expect high-speed access any time soon because the University does not own the building, Kim said.
Wiring would take about four to five months of construction in an unoccupied building, plus an equal amount of time for design and contractors’ bidding for the project.
Steps to wire the West End would include upgrading service, adding network cable for wire management and increasing power in each apartment.
GW is currently in its second year of a three-year lease with Pennsylvania House. The University rented 80 rooms in the Pennsylvania Avenue building in response to a larger than expected 2001 freshman class. GW also entered a 15-year lease for the entire St. James Suites, the hotel now known as City Hall.
City Hall was wired for Ethernet last year, but Flaherty said that since the lease with Pennsylvania House is only “short-term,” GW will not wire the building.
The West End is unable to be wired for cable modems because it uses satellite television, which cannot be used for cable Internet access. Its electrical system is also incapable of supporting cable modems for every student because it would cause an electrical overload, Kim said. The cable provider for Pennsylvania House also does not offer Internet service.
Students living in the two residence halls pay for their own dial-up access, with no financial assistance from the University.
Kim said GW does not provide money for dial-up access because some students chose to live without access.
But most students living in the residence halls said they are frustrated that they must live without high-speed connections.
“(The information I read) said ‘dial-up,’ which meant ‘paid for’ in my mind,” said sophomore Pennsylvania House resident Ruth Garfinkel, who pays about $20 per month for dial-up access.
Sophomore Adam Levine said he has tried for the last two weeks to get high-speed Internet access for his room in the West End. He said he contacted Verizon to get DSL service, but GW would not let him set up the service.
Kim said there are no computer labs in either the West End or the Pennsylvania House.
Some other residents said other benefits outweigh lack of high-speed access.
West End resident Michelle Kulikov, a junior, said that she remembers reading “no connectivity” when choosing the building, and she has adjusted to working without access because she has no choice.
“It was the lesser of two evils. It has a good location and the rooms are a good size,” Kulikov said.
But students living in the West End and Pennsylvania House pay typical housing fees, despite lack of Ethernet and cable modems.
Residents living in doubles in Pennsylvania House pay $7,720 per year, the same rate as students living in doubles in Francis Scott Key, Guthridge, JBKO and Munson halls and International House, according to the Community Living and Learning Center 2002-03 housing rate table.
Those living in the West End pay $7,470 for singles and $7,190 or $7,300 for doubles, depending on room size.
Students do not pay the technology fee that students living in wired residence halls pay, Flaherty said.