Obituary: SwatNet caused lasting impact on students

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SwatNet, the Swarthmore College WiFi network, passed away this Wednesday after a long, hard-fought struggle with various health complications including poor connection and seemingly non-existent bandwidth, as well as an unexplainable incompatibility with certain wireless devices. As its condition worsened, it became clear that SwatNet was fighting an uphill battle, at which point it was moved into a local assisted living facility. Mark Dumic, Swarthmore’s Director of Networking and Communications, was the palliative care professional who was responsible for SwatNet’s hospice treatment. In a statement released last week, Dumic said, “No new devices will be able to join SwatNet,” and added tearfully, “After January 27, the SwatNet network will be gone.”

SwatNet’s family was not available to comment.

Over the course of its life, SwatNet was known by some as a source of anguish. A byproduct of its faulty reliability, the constant threat of connection being lost — especially during finals week or the night before the due date of a huge paper — was always cause for widespread anxiety. Additionally, regardless of whether or not a wireless router was near, particular dorm rooms’ patchy connectivity often determined whether its tenants would be able to use the Internet on a regular basis.

However torturous its inconsistencies might have been, SwatNet’s faultiness made for an excellent card in a game of “Misery Poker,” and often acted as a common enemy towards which students could express hatred, making it a great source of bonding. It is with some sadness that Swarthmore parts ways with what was once a staple of the Swarthmore student’s plight.

SwatNet’s passing has been met with a variety of responses from students. Although many rejoice in its passing, others acknowledge that their relationships with SwatNet were more complex. Kai Richter ’16 said, “SwatNet and I had a rocky relationship during my first two years. But after dealing with the limited internet connection and censorship while studying abroad in China, I vowed to complain about SwatNet less.” Richter added wistfully, “It saddens me that SwatNet’s time has come to an end just as I was beginning to appreciate all [it] had done for me.”

SwatNet was also known for leaving students feeling deserted, helpless, and hopeless. Salman Safir ’16 stated, “SwatNet. Wow. What an off and on relationship.” He said, “I think it was a timing thing really. We never really got that down,” adding, “I guess though timing is hard when the other is always gone.”

In their struggles with SwatNet, many students were forced to entangle themselves in the bizarre intricacies of the SwatNet, SwatDevice, and SwatGuest realm. Stephanie Chen ’19 explained, “SwatDevice and SwatNet have always failed me, which is why I use the always reliable SwatGuest. I’ve gotten quite good at memorizing the three day passwords.”

The death of SwatNet marks the switch to the new wireless network called Eduroam. This new system will allow students to access wireless internet at more than 386 institutions worldwide (provided that a. SEPTA is running, and b. that Swarthmore students have the time and/or willpower to leave campus). Trying to make light of SwatNet’s death, Dumic offered consolation by stating that Eduroam is “a great service to be part of,” and in an attempt to comfort the grieving student body, wrote, “For existing devices already on SwatNet, an additional week will be available to make the change to Eduroam before it disappears for good.”

Although the switch to Eduroam is said to be a step in the right direction, it has been met with skepticism. Aside from the travesty that is the loss of a somewhat original network name (screaming “F*CK EDUROAM!” at five in the morning doesn’t have quite the same ring to it), students are protesting the fact that they may no longer be able to use the faulty SwatNet connection as a B.S. excuse for late assignments. Additionally, administrators and professors have begun to express concern that Eduroam’s installation could possibly serve to greatly improve wireless connection across campus, which, God forbid, might actually reduce the overall stress level of the student body.

SwatNet is survived by all members of the Swarthmore community; it will be remembered fondly as a frequent topic of discussion on Yik Yak and a consistent source of angst over which students enjoyed standing together in solidarity. Despite the agony and panic that it caused many a member of the Swarthmore community, SwatNet’s death is a mournful occasion. As one anonymous sophomore so eloquently put it, “It was always good enough to watch porn and, in the end, that’s what really matters.”

Rest in peace, SwatNet. You will be missed.


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