ResNet warned 160 students and disconnected 40 of them for not complying with the newly enforced bandwidth policy. The warnings and disconnections happened in three waves beginning on Oct. 31.
The policy, designed to put caps on the amount of bandwidth used by students, limited students to 12 gigabtyes of uploads a week.
“Our student use of ResNet to download and upload entertainment data — movies, other videos, music, computer games, etc. — is now bringing the ResNet system to its knees,” Director of Residential Life Logan Hazen said.
ResNet notified students in waves of three by identifying the weekly hundred top bandwidth users and notifying the students of their violation.
Sophomore Marie Hunter was one of the students in the first round of violators that was notified on Oct. 31 of their bandwidth violations.
“I had no idea that I was doing anything wrong and I received no warning either by e-mail or phone to tell me what I was doing wrong before they cut me off for a month,” she said.
“I found this punishment completely unfair and unfitting seeing as it was not something I even knew about or intended to do.”
Hunter said she accidentally left her KaZaA program open and had inadvertently clicked a box that made her a super node on the program that allowed others to use her computer as a server to speed their connection time to download music.
“Had I known I was doing something wrong, I would have stopped,” Hunter said.
The original policy of ResNet is to give students an initial warning by phone and e-mail if they are violating the bandwidth limits. They are given a week to get their levels back within applicable limits. If they do, no further action is taken against the student.
Second violations, according to the original policy, resulted in the loss of ResNet service for a month. A third violation resulted in students losing their connections for 90 days and a referral to the Dean of Students Office. A fourth violation results in a student being forbidden to use the university’s ResNet system.
The violations are cumulative throughout a student’s academic career.
Hazen said that there was a question raised by some of the first 100 violators of the policy whether they had adequately received their warning. He said that ResNet staffers had placed phone calls and sent e-mails but when Hazen contacted Information Technology Services it was difficult to confirm whether e-mails had actually been received by the students.
“When we couldn’t verify that the students had been informed, we assumed they hadn’t, and immediately reconnected them,” he said.
Hazen also changed the length of disconnection after discussion of the policy in an e-mail he sent out Nov. 21.
“Our intention in this process is to get the student’s attention, especially in the second stage of the process [where there is a] 30 day disconnection, so that more dramatic system wise solutions impacting all users won’t happen,” Hazen wrote. “Based on our interactions with the students disconnected, it is quite clear that the impact has been felt.
“As a result of this, I have asked the ResNet staff to reduce the initial disconnection time from a month to a week,” he concluded.
Later in the day, ResNet staffers reconnected the disconnected students.
Hazen is unaware of any complaints from students in the second and third group that they weren’t properly notified. There have been no students who have suffered a third violation yet.
“I think we’ve made the system better after we got student input,” Hazen said.
ResNet also decided to suspend enforcement of new violations until the beginning of next semester to avoid inconvenience over the finals period.
ResNet has set the current limit of outbound gigabytes per week at 12, which is comparable to about 17 CDs or three to four DVDs. If students cross the limit, they are eligible to be disconnected from ResNet.
One of the main complaints raised by students is the fact that there is no way currently for them to check how close they are coming to breaking the 12 gigabyte upload barrier.
Hazen said that upgrades that would allow them to allow for students track their bandwidth usage is cost prohibitive. ResNet is looking for a freeware program but is having difficulty finding one.
Senior and Students’ Association President Lonny Mallach thinks that ResNet has done a poor job of getting information out alerting students to the policy change.
“Letting students know what the official policy is from now on would be a good step to take,” he said. “It should be make clear that if you violate the rule, this is what is going to happen.”
He suggested a mass letter or e-mail to notify students of the new policy.
“Some people will just throw it out and not read it, but it will help get the word out there about this,” Mallach said.
Hazen feels the current system, after some tweaks, the initial warnings will work fine.
“Would a mass mailing change student behavior? Would a vast majority of students read it. Probably not,” Hazen said. “Is the first warning system just as good and targeted specifically to the person that has a problem with the policy?”