Concerning internet access on campus

Greg Allen | Op-Ed Submission

Dear Washington University Administrators,

I am sitting in Olin library writing this letter by hand. I recognize, of course, that it would be much more practical for me to compose this message as an e-mail and send it to you directly. Unfortunately, I cannot access my e-mail as my Internet is down. Normally, I would just wait until the situation improves, but Wash. U. Internet is always down. In fact, the Internet situation at Wash. U. is so bad that the fastest available form of correspondence is for me to deliver this message to Student Life in person so that they can carve its letters into lead plates thereafter covered with ink and run through a newspaper press. I wish there was an alternative to this 15th century form of communication, but as I said, I have no Internet.

I wonder what you, the administrative staff, think of the current Internet crisis. Perhaps you have separate landline connections that shield you from the worst effects of the current Internet famine? If so, I beg that you take mercy on us, the poor, Internet-starved students in the library, trying earnestly to make the most of our technologically backward “21st century education.” Honestly, we don’t ask for much. We’d like to be able to catch up on our e-mail. Occasionally, we’d also like to take advantage of all those state-of-the-art Internet features that your countless prospective-student letters bragged about: the online video of our last bio lecture, the homework posted only on Telesis and the Internet research databases. You told us all of these things would be state-of-the-art technologies, applications that more than justified the hundreds of thousands of dollars you asked in return. I assume that that you were not lying when you said these tools would be available to Wash. U. students. Alas, I cannot find out because I have no Internet.

I can recall, back before the great Internet famine of Fall 2009 began, a time when the Wash. U. Internet put at my fingertips unlimited news, media, tools, and scholarship—all at the speed of light. Now, during the rare occasions when my computer somehow manages to locate half a bar of signal, the Internet crawls by lazily, like some sedated turtle crawling backwards up a hill. At times I wonder if Wash. U. is located not in Saint Louis, as the University’s name suggests, but rather in some uncharted desert that even Internet satellites cannot reach. I would love to check the Wash. U. Web site to see if my hypothesis is correct. Regrettably, I cannot do so because I have no Internet.

I know that this e-mail sounds ungrateful, and perhaps even cruel, but I assure you that my sentiments are far milder than the venomous, spiteful curses I hear muttered in the library all around me. Here, the starving Internet refugees damn your name and all things Wash. U. as they pray to the Internet gods that this nightmare will pass, so they can once again bask in the enlightening glow of their laptop screens. Perhaps you are already aware of this insufferable problem and working tirelessly to fix it. Then again, how would we know? We have no Internet.


Greg Allen

Greg is a senior in Arts & Sciences. He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]

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