Lara, the Cornell petitioner, has framed the network-usage fees as a tax on students who prefer consuming Web videos to consuming alcohol. “While some students opt to partake in drug-related pastimes, other students stay in and watch movies, talk on Skype or iChat, or even just surf the Web,” wrote Lara in a Web petition addressed to university officials. “We should not be penalized for this,” she wrote, particularly given how much students already pay in tuition and fees.Don't students, generally, pay for their own alcohol? Isn't that a major difference here?
Cornell has a bandwidth usage limit below which students aren't charged:
The university more than doubled its network-usage threshold in July, and even before that officials estimated that only 10 percent of students were charged overage fees in any given month.Other pertinent points were brought up in the article:
Tracy Mitrano, director of I.T. policy at Cornell, told Inside Higher Ed she thinks Cornell’s policy on bandwidth management is better than some alternatives. (Full disclosure: Mitrano writes a blog on I.T. policy and law for Inside Higher Ed.) Many other colleges use tools called “packet shapers,” which allow network administrators to prioritize certain network activities over others. If the network is stressed, packet-shaping administrators might slow the connection in a dorm so as to let connections in the library run at normal speed.Cornell's policies do not seem to me to be beyond the pale.
Cornell’s “business-model” approach is more transparent, says Mitrano. Not only are students notified when they are approaching the monthly threshold, but they are never deprived of a speedy connection by any network administrator acting as a “wizard behind the curtain.”