Grad Students Not on ResnetBy Ifung Lu
Graduate students are concerned because their dormitories will not be part of Resnet, the ongoing project to make Athena and the MIT network accessible to undergraduate dormitories and independent living groups.
The Resnet project involves installing high-speed ethernet connections to on-campus living groups and slower, digital telephone-line connections to living groups off campus.
Many graduate students would like some sort of connection to Athena. According to Graduate Student Council President Caryl B. Brown G, graduate students would use an Athena hookup in their rooms if they had the option. "Over three-quarters of the population, 77.2 percent, said they would use an Athena hookup," said Brown, citing a survey taken earlier this year.
Information Systems is receptive to these desires, said Michael L. Barrow, a consultant for Computer Support Services. "It's on people's minds to expand to include graduate dorms." Though the current focus is on installing the connections in undergraduate residences, "This is definitely only the first step," he said.
The problem is that "IS is not paying for this project entirely. What's budgeted is to install Resnet in independent living groups and the undergraduate dorms. MIT is in a deficit. We're surprised that they got money for this," Barrow said.
"As long as we have the proper resources, I don't see why" graduate students cannot be included, Barrow said. "But IS by itself is not in the position to make that decision. It is a big strategic decision," he said.
Graduate students do use Athena
The GSC has determined that graduate students do use Athena. "Around half of the students use Athena less than five hours a week. About a quarter of the students use Athena between five and nine hours a week," Brown said. These students use Athena for a variety of reasons including accessing courseware, word processing programs, and electronic mail.
Brown added that a dormitory hookup would be useful for more than just accessing Athena. With the hookup, one gets "access to the Internet, access to the world," he said. Also, the only outside access to many office computing facilities is to telnet the MIT network via Athena dialup, which is slow and limiting, he added.
"I think that there are severe limitations to dialup," said John C. Baker Jr. G, co-chair of the GSC housing and community committee. The main computing benefits of ethernet are the speed and range of applications that can be run, he said.
Graduate students would gain other benefits from network connections in their dormitory rooms, Baker said. "Many graduate students don't have computers in their offices, especially design students and, I believe, biology students, who don't get them until their third year. Access to computers is limited," he said.
"Graduate students tend to have more odd hours. In light of robberies over the past weekend, safety is an issue. Maybe traveling back and forth [to the office] late at night isn't all that safe," Brown said.
Although a survey focusing on the Resnet issue will not be conducted for three or four weeks, "Our informal feeling from GSC meetings is that a lot of graduate students would like to see and would make use of a link to Athena," Baker said.
Satyavolu S. Papa Rao G agreed. "I use Athena a lot. Programs like Matlab are especially necessary for small research groups that can't afford to buy it themselves," he said.