St. John’s unplugged

St. John’s University is one of the most wireless campuses in the United States, according to the Intel Corporation.

For the second year in a row, St. John’s has ranked in the Top 10 among the “Most Unwired College Campuses” in a survey conducted by Intel. St. John’s ranked #7 this year, and was the only New York school in the Top 10.

St. John’s moved up three places from last year and is currently ranked seventh among schools with an enrollment of over 1,000 students.

St. John’s began its wireless initiative in the 2003 Fall semester. Areas for wireless Internet connection sprang up across campus. Incoming freshmen were also given new IBM laptops as part of the initiative.

“The main interest [of] the University was to level the playing field for our students,” said Joseph Tufano, the chief information officer for Information Technology. “The university has always recognized the role of technology in learning. We just want to make sure that our students have as much opportunity as students in other schools and have the best available for them.”

According to the University’s Web site, “The objective of the Laptop Program is to give students equal access to technology and to provide faculty with a mobile computer option. Starting in the fall of 2003, all incoming full-time freshmen received notebook computers. The program was expanded in the fall of 2004 to include all transfers and readmitted students.”

The University distributed approximately 3,400 laptops to freshmen and faculty during the program’s first year in 2003. By fall 2004, nearly 7,000 St. John’s students were equipped with new IBM ThinkPad laptops courtesy of the new laptop initiative.

“We are proud and excited to be able to provide our students with the technology they need to succeed in today’s world,” said Rev. Donald J. Harrington, C.M., president of St. John’s University, in August 2004. “With more than 7,000 students now carrying wireless laptops, and having provided the same technology to our faculty, St. John’s is at the forefront of integrating technology and higher education in a meaningful way for our students.”

Although successful, some setbacks plagued the initiative in the spring of 2004. In April, two men were arrested for burglary at St. John’s after they attempted to steal wireless routers from the campus, as reported in the April 28, 2004 issue of The Torch.

Abil Iobal and Craig McNeill, two St. John’s students, were arrested after Public Safety officers caught them in Marillac Hall removing hardware associated with the wireless systems.

Officers discovered that the two men had removed approximately 20 pieces of hardware from the network prior to Public Safety’s arrival.

There have been no further reports of similar incidents.

Intel’s survey findings are based on the percentage of each college campus that is covered by wireless technology, the number of undergraduate students and the computer to student ratio for each school.

“Its real success is if the students think it’s successful,” Tufano said.

Data for the survey was collected from University interviews, public documents and additional industry sources; the America’s Most Connected Campuses ranking conducted by Princeton Review and published in Forbes; and an outline survey that schools completed between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2005 which was conducted by the Center for Digital Education and Intel Corporation.

The top honor went to Ball State University in Muncie, Ind.