University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Northfield Residents Campaign Against Ongoing Internet Outages

Lottie Carter

ByLottie Carter

Apr 23, 2024

Residents of Northfield Block 9 have faced continual WiFi outages totalling over 30 days without internet connection since September. The 54 students within the block have repeatedly expressed their frustration to the University of Sussex since the issue began, yet they are still faced with periodic outages. The source of the issue is unknown and why the problem continues is yet to be explained to the students, but it is understood to be unrelated to the West Slope development. 

Students within Block 9 have expressed the impact of the WiFi issue, with many reporting that their inability to access educational content is affecting their online exams and essay submissions. Similarly, students have reported increasing feelings of isolation since the issue began as they are unable to contact family back home without interruptions. 

Despite WiFi being a promised service by the University, not an agreed term within the housing contract, the so-called “campus wide service” has failed to work, and thus Northfield students have been forced to purchase supplementary mobile data and invest in external WiFi providers in addition to paying their maintenance and tuition fees.

Following the Block 9 students’ reporting of the WiFi issue to a plethora of University employees since September, the problem persists. In addition to receiving unsympathetic replies devoid of accountability, the University simultaneously advised students to contact internet provider company Wifinity directly, or to access WiFi in a different part of campus. The students recounted to The Badger their tireless efforts of reporting directly to Wifinity despite their contracts residing with the University, not the wifi service. 

In light of the prevailing issue, four students have launched a campaign on behalf of all students living in Block 9 to resolve this issue, and have been in direct communication with the University. The students addressed the problem directly in an open letter, signed by over forty students and staff, advising the University to solve the issue, and calling for a financial rebate for all students affected. The letter acknowledges the University’s “deflect[ion] from [their] responsibilities” and highlights the disabled students who felt unable to simply access WiFi from a different area on campus. The letter summarises the students’ experience by stating that the “University’s poor treatment and vehement lack of accountability” is the lasting stain upon their university experience.

Moreover, students have expressed their disappointment of the University’s broken promise of equal access to education as well as the former’s handling of the ongoing issue. One of the four students leading the ‘Northfield Block 9 Campaign’ stated that they were “blatantly ignored” after contacting “informed members of the University” and expressed that the issue has severely “impacted us and the trust we have with the University and their handling of the issue.” 

Nonetheless, the students have begun a campaign to bring the University’s failures to light. The campaign leaders have stated their main goals are to “achieve a peaceful resolution” with the University and for the latter to “acknowledge the unfulfillment” of a paid service in the shape of a “financial rebate for all students” impacted. The students have additionally highlighted that their “contract is with the University, not Wifinity”, both of which are fulfilling an unsatisfactory service.

Despite ongoing efforts, the students of Block 9 continue to experience periodic WiFi outages. When approached for comment upon this article, the University stated that they “are aware of some issues that have impacted residents of one block” and will “continue to engage with residents on the matter.” The students and University are currently working together to resolve the issue and are in negotiations regarding financial compensation. 

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