21 September

My university, McGill, has instituted a campus wide wireless access policy for students. I think this is a good idea and quite consistent with what is happening in many schools, universities and even cities (for example San Francisco is going to have free ubiquitous wireless in the entire downtown).

The bizarre part of the plan is that the wireless access is not free for faculty or staff of the university. I think this is frankly ridicululous. Presumably the wireless service helps with productivity, convenience or has other benefits. (more below)

Failing to offer this to employees, presumably in order to gain a couple of dollars per month access fee, appears stingy as well as mean spirited. It may be that they expect some professors to pay for it from their research funds, and in truth it isn't much money in that context, but that doesn't justify the irritation to everybody else. Furthermore, the key sources of federal research funds specifically prohibit researchers from paying for infrastructure costs, which are the responsibility of the university (and hence the provincial government). As such, it is probably illegal for professors to pay for this fee from their most ubiquitous research funds anyhow.

Most of all, a policy like this just breeds bad will, cynicism and frustration. It certainly annoys me and I'd rather not have the access in that case. In guess in class, I'll just have to ask my student to look things up if I need web access in real time during a lecture.

By Gregory Dudek at | Leave a comment |    
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