More Than 200 Students Violate Bandwidth AUP

More than one in four boarders exceeded the one-gigabyte bandwidth limit for the monitoring period last week, according to the Phillips Academy Technology Office. But many students say that the numbers are inaccurate and overstate bandwidth usage. A record number of students violated the limit, said Valerie Roman, Director of Technology. “Students didn’t think anyone was looking at it anymore,” she said. This was the first week cluster deans reprimanded students for overuse, which was measured between October 1 and October 7. Tom Foley ’09 said, “I’ve never gone over. This doesn’t make any sense.” Foley, who uses a bandwidth monitor, said that he saw higher totals in weeks last year when he was not over the limit by the official count. But administrators disagreed. “[Chris Joel, the Director of Network and Systems Services] feels that there’s nothing that shows that the numbers are inaccurate,” Roman said. The Technology Office spent several hours Tuesday night double-checking the gathered data, according to Abbot Cluster Dean Lisa Joel. Administrators waited until this week to release violators’ names because of flawed data gathered during other weeks, according to Dean of Students Marlys Edwards. Students who no longer attend the school were appearing on the list of violatiors. To fix the problem, the Technology Office asked students to re-register their computers online last week. After the list of violators was released on Tuesday, administrators instituted a new policy increasing the limit to 1,024 megabytes, a proper gigabyte. The limit had previously been 1,000 megabytes, said Edwards. According to Flagstaff Cluster Dean Clyfe Beckwith, eight to 10 students have been cleared of bandwidth violations due to the change in policy. Usage in the PACC and on the Phillips Academy wireless network does not count towards the limit. Only one student in Johnson Hall, a dorm fully outfitted with wireless access, went over the limit. Students received notification of their violations via emails from cluster deans on Tuesday evening. Forty-two bandwidth violators also received a mistakenly attached spreadsheet that contained the names of all 208 students who were in violation across campus. The violations and one-week suspensions of service affected approximately 68 new students and 141 returning students. Only five dorms – Burtt House, Flagg House, Samaritan House, Smith House and Thompson House – were violation-free. According to Valerie Roman, the highest numbers of students over bandwidth often occur during the first few weeks of monitoring. “Historically, the first few weeks of the year are always the highest,” Roman said. Roman added that she believed students had been using even more bandwidth this year because students had not been notified of their overages until this week. However, Joel said that most times when a student has told her that the reading was incorrect, Technology finds that students disputing results often exclude sites they have visited from their reports to the cluster dean. “We used the same monitoring system as last year,” Joel said. Andover piloted a system without monitoring during this past Summer Session, but, according to Roman, the campus connections were at capacity. Andover had a system without monitoring from 2000 until 2003. “We have a 120-megabyte connection,” Roman said. “Most of our peer schools have about as much bandwidth as we did three years ago – six megabytes.” Roman said that the school was not likely to discuss increasing its connection unless it was found that students were going over for academic purposes. “Currently the data still show that what’s pushing kids over the limit is recreational use: Facebook, MySpace and YouTube. People aren’t going over using National Geographic or CNN,” Roman said. Roman also said that the limit was likely to be revisited by the deans if the median student usage climbs much above the 300-400 megabyte weekly figure that monitoring revealed last year. She also said that the deans would probably wait another few weeks before making major policy changes. However, Roman didn’t deny that there was a need for change in network policy. “We have to find a way to share our resources better,” she said.