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New Wi-Fi Overnight Shutoff Policy Explained

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As of Sep 10, the Williston student Wi-Fi shuts off at 1:00 a.m. and turns on at 6:00 a.m. The new policy has brought up a lot of questions.

Kathy Noble, Dean of Students, and David Koritkoski, Assistant Dean, sat down after the first week of classes with The Willistonian to explain the reasons behind this new policy.

“There are many reasons for us to apply this new policy, not just because we want students to install good sleeping habits and study habits like many people thought,” said Koritkoski. “We had looked at the best practice among boarding schools in the U.S, especially around Massachusetts, and we realized that this is what our peer schools have been doing for a very long time.”

“Many boarding schools restrict internet usage much earlier than us so we are very behind,” he continued. “This is also a major request from parents who looked at other schools and want to apply this policy on their children as well. We are trying to look at the bigger picture.”

Turning off Wi-Fi at night, Koritkoski said, will reduce the temptation — Netflix and gaming are also turned off. “It’s our role to do what the parents would do for their kids at home,” he said.

Ms. Noble admitted there was a “misstep for the first few days we applied this new policy that surprised both us and the students.” The misstep, Noble said, was that the Wi-Fi was supposed to shut off at 1:00, but instead turned off at midnight. This “created a misunderstanding and made people unhappy,” she said. “However, everything is running according to the plan and hopefully it will achieve what it is meant to do.”

The Willistonian also had a conversation with Health and Wellness regarding students’ health and their sleeping habits as they relate to use — and overuse — of screen time.

“While most of the students that come to see me have a different reason for coming, many report a lack of sleep and/or tiredness,” said Sara Schieffelin, Director of Psychological Counseling Services. “There are many effects of not having enough sleep, and all of them are negative, and include: memory issues, trouble thinking/concentrating, mood changes, weight gain, weakened immunity, lower stress threshold, and many more.”

Schieffelin believes Williston students would benefit from getting more sleep, and not staying up on their phones and computers.

“The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has made recommendations that people ages 14-17 get 8.5-9.5 hours a night, and that people ages 18-25 get 7-9 hours a night,” said Schieffelin. “I do think that students at Williston would achieve better academic results if they followed the recommended hours of sleep for their age-group.”

Many international students expressed their worries about this new policy due to the significant time difference between the U.S and back home. Three year senior Emily Cho, from South Korea, has already had an unpleasant experience with the new policy.

“The first day they turned off the Wi-Fi was my mom’s birthday and I couldn’t talk to her.” said Emily. “I was on the phone with her to wish her happy birthday but then the Wi-Fi suddenly turned off.”

Senior Ha Phan, from Hanoi, Vietnam, also shared her concerns about the new policy.

“It’s unfair to students who don’t have data on their phone,” said Ha. “Those who do get to continue using internet while those who can’t afford data are forced to go to bed. People who are used to staying up will stay up anyway and will have to pay extra money in addition to the tuition to have Wi-Fi, which should have been included in the school’s tuition.”

On the other hand, many students expressed their understanding for the Dean Office’s reasoning behind this new change.

“I understand why they do it, but I don’t think I would be happy if I were a boarder,” said junior Oscar DeFrancis.

Senior Emma Gentile agreed. “I’m okay with the Wi-Fi shutting off at 1:00 a.m.,” she said. “That’s enough time for me to finish my homework.”

Senior Vishnu Sekar shared the same point of view: “1:00 a.m. for Wi-Fi to turn off is a good time for me,” said Vishnu. “It’s a good thing that the school is trying to improve more.”

The Willistonian reached out to Williston’s peer prep schools to ask whether they apply the same policy to their students.

Northfield Mount Hermon turns off their Wi-Fi at midnight for all students during the weekdays and 2:00 a.m. during the weekends; it turns on at 6:00 a.m.

Junior Daniel Jones from NMH shared some of his thoughts about the issues to The Willistonian in a phone call.

“They have been doing it ever since NMH got Wi-Fi and most of them also found it unfair for those who couldn’t afford data,” said Daniel. “We tried to file complaints but because it’s always been that way so there is not much to be done.”

Taft School also has its own policy for Wi-Fi, which is a little different from Williston’s.

Wi-Fi is blocked for freshman and sophomores from 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m., which are study hall hours, so all social media is inaccessible. Wi-Fi goes on again 10:00 p.m. and turns off completely at 10:30 for freshman and sophomores. For juniors and seniors, they don’t have blocked Wi-Fi during study hall, and then the Wi-Fi shuts off for the night at 11:30. For all students, the Wi-fi turns on at 6:00 a.m.

In a text message, Junior Perry Allen at Taft expressed her view on the issue.

“Since it’s been like that for a long time, I’m not bothered by it at all,” said Perry. “And it’s also nice that it loosens up as you become older, but that’s just speaking from my opinion, I’m not sure how others feel about it.”

At Loomis Chaffee, in Windsor, Connecticut, Wi-Fi shuts off at 10:30 p.m. during the weekdays for freshmen, 11 p.m. for sophomores and 12 a.m for juniors. For seniors and proctors, there is no limitation of Wi-Fi usage.

Like many other peer school’s, Deerfield Academy’s Wi-Fi policy has been around for years. For freshman and sophomores, internet shuts off at 11:00, according to Bradley Sheulda, User Support Specialists for the Office of Information Technology.

For juniors and seniors, the Wi-Fi shuts off at 1:00 a.m. during the week, and comes back on at 5:00 a.m. On the weekends, the Wi-Fi shuts down at 1:00 a.m. for all students.

Simon Kim, one of the Senior Class Representatives at Williston, said he is hopeful the policy will be effective for everyone involved.

“This is the first time Williston applied this policy, so therefore it still needs a lot of adjustment and improvement to become better,” said Simon. “And the student council is always open for suggestions from students that we can discuss with the Dean’s Office during our meeting every Friday”

Koritkoski would also love to hear from students on this issues.

“Students should talk to their student council so that they can talk to us,” he said. “We would love to listen.”

 

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New Wi-Fi Overnight Shutoff Policy Explained