Powering Down Wi-Fi Shutoff

Twenty-four-hour Wi-fi at Choate may not be just a dream for much longer. The Student Council sent a proposal to Mr. James Stanley, the Dean of Students, last Thursday on extending the internet hours for students, specifically during junior spring and senior fall and winter terms. The Student Council hopes that decisions will be made by Mr. Stanley and the rest of the deans so that changes can be put into place by the next school year.

One of the major goals of this proposed change is equity throughout the student body: a point of academic fairness. “A lot of kids already have the advantage of working past 12 AM because they can just go on their phone and set up a hotspot,” explained Reade Ben ’18, rising sixth-form representative to the Student Council, and the writer of the proposal. “But a lot of students don’t have access to that. Creating equity for internet access levels the playing field for people that can’t get data on their phone.”

The biggest reason for extended internet hours, in the opinion of Reade Ben and the Student Council, is academics. “Academics was our major point. Kids just felt that the time that the internet goes off, especially for 5th formers is just too restrictive for them to finish their work on time,” explained Ben ‘18. “It adds convenience to a situation that’s already happening. It doesn’t make anything worse,” added Mpilo Norris ’18, student body president, who was also involved in the conversation with Mr. Stanley about the change.

Individuality and freedom for the students, as well as emphasis on the responsibility and maturity of the fifth and sixth formers, was another driving force behind the proposal. “I think it’s important because it merely reflects the goals that are already present. We recognize that our students are busy. Extending the internet just gives the convenience which is oftentimes necessary to complete their work,” said Norris ‘18. “It also reflects the fact that kids can be trusted with such privileges because of growing maturity and growing responsibility.”

Extended internet hours would also benefit international students, a substantial portion of the Choate community. “For kids who don’t have access to LTE, it makes it really hard, especially with dorms that have bad service, for kids to communicate with their parents after twelve. If you need to talk to your parents at 1:00 a.m. because that’s just what works for them in their time zone, a lot of people can’t do that,” explained Ben. Tippa Chan ’19 added, “Especially since I’m an international student, when I’m jetlagged, I wake up at like four, and I have nothing to do. Extending the internet hours would be really nice.”

Student Council also recognizes potential concerns about the extension of internet hours: that students will abuse the responsibility, or sleep too late. However, Ben pointed out that “especially for sixth formers, there’s not really any benefit to abusing the Wi-fi. A lot of these seniors are going to be putting in the work during the stressful time of college applications and finishing up standardized tests and getting their homework done, so I don’t think there will be much room for them to abuse the power of this.” He also took these concerns into account when writing the proposal: “That’s sort of why we suggested that this be for seniors during fall and winter term, because that’s when seniors have the highest amount of work.”

Ben has had extension of Internet hours on his mind since coming to Choate as a new junior this year. “The Wi-fi hours was automatically noticed as something I wanted to change, especially coming from home where I have the privilege of being able to access Wi-fi 24/7. I didn’t see the reason for it being cut off, especially for juniors.” Ben then said he “went and gathered student opinions during a form forum on why they thought they needed extended internet hours and kind of just formulated that into a document.”

Overall, the proposal to extend internet hours for fifth and sixth formers is an attempt to further emphasize the existing goals of the School. “If we believe that our students are trained to be independent, to be responsible, even amiss lots of privileges, then we should have policies in our school that reflect that,” said Norris.

Now all that’s left is further conversation with Mr. Stanley and the deans. “This is obviously open for discussion. It’s possible that they could approve part of it. It could range from something, to nothing, to in between,” said Norris. Added Ben, “I put in the conclusion of the proposal that we are totally open to discuss the grounds of the proposal with Mr. Stanley and work out something if he likes some aspects and doesn’t like some other aspects, in order to come up with a solution that works best for both the administration and the students.” If all goes well, the student body might be seeing such a solution by next year.

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