I opted not to travel this holiday season because I had a lot of work to get done. I decided that I would keep the holidays simple and spend several hours each day writing, then spending evenings with my family and friends. It seemed the most responsible way to spend the two weeks of UCI campus holiday and furlough–my partner also being a campus employee had similar plans to spend the holiday season getting caught up on his various online projects. My family is, perhaps, more Internet-dependent than most. All four of us are avid bloggers, three of us are active twitter users, and two of us base most of our professional lives on online technologies/media.
However, on December 23rd we realized that our Internet service was out. This is not an entirely unusual occurrence–our Internet service is randomly unavailable on a regular basis, but such outages rarely last more than 3 hours. However, this outage proved to be more persistent. After about 30 hours of outage I started calling the helpline (getting a recording) and emailing various members of Housing and IT administration. I received a fairly prompt reply from Housing personnel and learned my message was the first that they’d heard of the outage. My spouse, when calling to related tech services around campus learned that the OIT helpline was barraged with calls about the outage but their hands were tied because they had no jurisdiction over campus housing.
To make a long story short: due to furloughed campus employees, there will be no Ethernet service for graduate housing until after the quarter begins on January 4th. The personal consequence of this is that my works efforts are highly stymied for the time being (short bursts of connectivity happening whenever I want to hang out in the one laundry room nearby with access). While the consequence for me and my family is mostly superficial, it’s far more dramatic for some of my colleagues–those who are teaching in Winter quarter can’t access course materials, rosters, or set up class websites until after the quarter has begun. Those of my colleagues who are headed to two of the largest hiring conferences in the Humanities (the MLA and the AHA) can’t access program information or correspond with interviewers. And those of us graduate students with funding deadlines can’t turn in applications or communicate with our recommenders.
Typically when our Internet is down we head to the campus to get access. However, due to the furlough the campus is completely shuttered, as is our local public library, too, due to the state budget crunch.
I feel as though my internet woes are somewhat minimal…a blip on the radar of the world’s real problems. But it’s one more thing that’s adding to the burden of those of us affiliated with the UC. With layoffs, cutbacks, furloughs, and budgetary woes, the UC is no longer offering a stellar academic experience. Instead, it’s becoming an educational albatross.