5/16/11 Ask Charlotte

Week of May 16, 2011

Dear Friends,

As this semester draws to a close, I want to take the opportunity to wish ‘Good luck' to all our students as they go into final examinations.

And I offer sincere congratulations to all of our graduating seniors!

Kind regards,


Question: Why is Internet in dorms as well as town houses so slow? Not only Wi-Fi but also the Ethernet is extremely slow.

Answer: Thanks to my friends in the Technology Resource Center (or TRC) for this informative response:

Demand for Internet speed is at an all-time high on college and university campuses, and Hartwick is no exception. The number and types of devices (e.g. laptops, smart phones, iPods, iPads, game consoles) that can connect to the Internet and the number of services (e.g. Web pages, video, video phone calls, games) now offered over the Internet has increased dramatically even within the last few months. While Hartwick's Internet speed was increased by 150% in August 2010, the pace of increasing demand has outstripped the quantum jump in the size of the pipe. Our Internet speed is a shared, finite resource which must be divided ever more finely as each new device and service appears on the network.

In previous years, Hartwick operated its network as an "academic network" on which those services thought to be most germane to the pursuit of academic work were given the highest priority. Services not related to academics were severely deprioritized. This strategy delivered the greatest speed to services like HTML Web pages and made online games difficult to enjoy. In the fall of 2009 the Student Senate made a case that the Internet is as much for recreation as it is for academics. This prompted us to increase the priority given to video (e.g. YouTube, Flash Video), purchased music downloads (e.g. iTunes), games (e.g. Xbox Live, Sony Online), messaging (e.g. Skype, AIM) and non-academic Web sites. As you probably know, all of these services have a capacious appetite for speed.

As vehicle traffic on a freeway slows down when congestion increases, so too Internet traffic also slows down as demand for speed increases. Things are relatively quiet (speed is fast for any one single user because there are few users doing few things) in the early morning and starts a steady ramp-up around breakfast time that continues until dinner, where there is a slight dip. After dinner the Internet link is nearly saturated (speed is slow for any one user because there are lots of users doing lots of things) until early morning.

Question: Why don't we have wireless Internet in the dorms? I understand the Ethernet is supposed to be faster, but it's actually really slow. The wireless Internet on my iPhone is faster than the Ethernet connection in the dorms. Also, why don't we have regular cable channels, such as Bravo and Disney?

Answer: Again, from my friends in the TRC:

There are wireless access points in the residence halls, but only in the common areas (lounges) for each residence hall. A student's ability to pick up a wireless signal will depend on their proximity to the access point. Since the dorm rooms have a wired Ethernet jack for each occupant, and the wired network offers faster and more secure networking, we have focused on other areas on campus when adding access points. We continue to review the campus wireless capability on an ongoing basis, and it will likely continue to evolve in the future.

Please refer to the previous response regarding Internet speed.

And (this is Charlotte responding), while the selection of Hartwick's cable channels clearly can't please everyone, it would seem that its 60+ channels would offer a fine variety from which to choose.

Question: Who do students talk to about a professor who is not doing their job? We have already talked to the department chair, and have had no luck there.

Answer: Your next step should be to make an appointment to speak with Dean Hunsberger in Academic Affairs.

Question: Charlotte: What do faculty secretaries do? And why are they called secretaries? Isn't this 2011 and isn't that a bit sexist?

Answer: The American Heritage Dictionary defines a secretary as ‘A person employed to handle correspondence, keep files and do clerical work.' Faculty secretaries at Hartwick do this and much more! To find out what their jobs entail, you may want to stop by and chat with one of these busy individuals.

The position of ‘secretary' may be fulfilled by either a man or a woman, so it's difficult to call it a sexist term (think of the ‘Secretary of State'). Some perceive the work done by a secretary (which, in truth, is often a woman) as ‘less important.' I imagine, however, that many offices would cease to run smoothly (or perhaps implode) without an experienced secretary as part of the team. 

Question: How come questions are not answered on a weekly basis? The Ask Charlotte home page says that they are addressed on a weekly basis, but the last posting was a full month ago. 

Answer: The timing of my columns varies due to a number of reasons: some queries require research in order to respond accurately; in some months I receive very few questions; and finally, there are times when even a spirit has a lot on her virtual plate.

Thank you for pointing out this discrepancy. I will see that the wording on the home page is adjusted to better reflect reality.

Question: Why is it so hot in the library!!!??? Aren't there fans??

Answer: As mentioned in a recent column, the upgrade of the heating system in Yager is intended to be among the capital improvements that will be addressed in the near future.

Question: I'm filling out this application and it's asking for the catalog number and page number for the courses I have taken and am currently taking, how do I find the catalog number and page number of my courses?

Answer: The application may refer to the pages on which the course descriptions appear in the online catalog.

Question: What is the deal with the hierarchy of housing/scheduling? There appears to be a huge lack of clarity and I would imagine fairness. What exactly are the criteria for all of these things and why can't there just be one universal seniority system?

Currently it seems like any student who wants a good shot at a decent room needs to be an athlete or they can take their pick between a bundle of sticks or a slab of cement to sleep on for the next year. How is it that a group with a sophomore can outweigh 4 juniors just by including a senior in their group for a suite? Furthermore, I have heard rumors that honors students (regardless of year) schedule before everyone. How is it fair that an incoming sophomore, with 6 semesters to fill their requirements can come before a senior who NEEDS certain classes just to graduate? That should be inexcusable under any circumstance, especially considering how poor the course offering is, and the fact that many classes are maxed out before many juniors have even scheduled.

Answer: Our housing system is based on housing points and seniority. While being an active member in clubs, organizations and athletic teams can earn you additional housing points (a student can earn 35 points through being a member of a club, organization or athletic team, or more in a leadership position), the majority of housing points come from a student's cumulative GPA (this is multiplied by 1000).

We give seniors the greatest seniority when ranking students (whether they are grouped with seniors or with other students), followed by juniors, then sophomores.

To ensure clarification, you may review a complete explanation of the points system on the Web site.

And it is true--not a rumor--that Honors students are entitled to priority pre-registration. This is one of the perks of being part of the Honors program; a reward (and perhaps an incentive) for eligible students who elect to enhance their academic experience at Hartwick through the program.

If upperclass students are not able to pre-register for a course needed for graduation, they may appeal to the professor for permission to add the class. In my experience, professors understand this situation and are willing to accommodate students in need.

As you can see, academic success at Hartwick is considered worthy of tangible reward, whether in housing or pre-registration--which, in an academic setting, makes perfect sense to me.

Question: Hi, I was wondering when the "temporary" log in page was going to be removed or done away with. The date seemed to have been pushed back all September, and now there is no date at all, just the "this is only temporary" statement.

Answer: From my friends in the TRC:

Prior to August 2010, it was necessary for the Technology Resource Center to install the Symantec Endpoint Protection (or SEP) in new computers before they could be connected to the network. This did not take place until the weekend before classes. As of August 2010, the College moved to the Web authentication mechanism now in use whereby users log onto the network through a Web page. With Web authentication new students had the convenience of connecting to the network even before SEP was installed on their computers. At the initial implementation of Web authentication, there was a plan to move to Media Access Control (or MAC) address authentication shortly after the beginning of classes thereby eliminating the need for the logon steps, but this has been delayed.

Web authentication and MAC address authentication are mutually exclusive; both cannot be enabled at the same time. By allowing students to forego registration of their MAC addresses and use Web authentication instead, the database of MAC addresses is not complete at this time, thus preventing the change to the more convenient MAC address authentication. A changeover now, with an incomplete database of MAC addresses, would prevent those students who have not registered their MAC addresses with the TRC from connecting to the network at all. Thus the ‘temporary' log in.