Students reflect on CHS Wi-Fi bans of certain apps, websites



han.wifibans.5.19Music is a huge part of sophomore Holly Metcalf’s life. She said she has been a fan of the band Cherub for years. She loves listening to the group’s music and even attended a concert of theirs in October of last year, she said. However, she can’t listen to Cherub’s music in one of the places she spends the most time: at school. That’s because Metcalf’s favorite music app, Spotify, is blocked on the Wi-Fi at CHS.

According to Assistant Principal Joseph Schaller, the music streaming application Spotify is blocked on the CCS and CCS Guest Wi-Fi due to its excessive use of bandwidth. He acknowledged students who have complained, but discussed the necessity for the block.

“I know one of the blocked websites we get a lot of complaints about is Spotify,” Schaller said. “The main reason it’s blocked is that it uses up a lot of bandwidth, and that takes away from what our other teachers can be using if all the students are using Spotify and taking up all the bandwidth when the teachers need to be online.”

5.19 alt cov 2Metcalf said the argument made sense, but she said she was still unconvinced it was a great enough reason for the ban.

“I understand (the bandwidth issue), but students are constantly using other social media at school that I assume also causes issues with bandwidth, so how is Spotify any different from those?” Metcalf said.

While many music listening and video streaming applications that use a significant amount of bandwidth like Spotify are blocked on school Wi-Fi, several that use a similar amount of bandwidth are not. For instance, Spotify, Pandora, Rhapsody and Netflix are all blocked, but Soundcloud and Hulu are not. Schaller said he does not know the exact reasoning behind these choices.

“I assume the ones that aren’t blocked just tend to use less bandwidth,” Schaller said. “I mean, either that or the ones that aren’t blocked just haven’t been realized by administration yet or students don’t use them as much, so a problem hasn’t appeared yet.”

Schaller said another reason sites get blocked is for detracting from the learning environment at the school. However, Emma Aikman, CHTV sports co-anchor and junior, said the Wi-Fi block on Spotify actually detracts from her learning environment.

“I know that I personally would love to listen to Spotify while I’m working on stuff for CHTV,” she said, “and I also know that for a lot of people on CHTV staff with me, it actually helps them to listen to music. Like for a lot of students, listening to music actually helps them focus, but with the ban on Spotify it makes it a lot harder for them to (listen to music).”

Aikman said the other issue with certain Wi-Fi blocks is that sometimes CHTV reporters can’t find information they need.

“Honestly I haven’t run into that (problem) before, but I know there have been issues with doing research in past years,” Aikman said. “A lot of it has kind of cleared up, though, because of certain sites getting unblocked after people realized it was a problem.”

Schaller said he has had teachers come to him with certain sites that were incorrectly blocked.5.19 alt cov

“The system that we use right now for blocking websites searches for keywords and features on the actual site, and if it finds any of the words, it gets blocked,” he said. “But obviously, there can be issues with that systems, and sites that shouldn’t be blocked get blocked or vice versa. I have had teachers bring certain sites that they need to use to my attention, saying, you know, ‘Hey, this site really shouldn’t be blocked, I need to use it,’ and then what happens is we look over the website and make sure it’s all okay, and then we unblock it if everything comes out right.”

Aikman said she usually uses data to listen to Spotify at school.

“Much to my dad’s annoyance, I stream the hell out of my data listening to Spotify at school,” she said. “But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get those creative juices flowing.”

Schaller said despite some complaints from students, there is no plan in place to unblock Spotify or any of the other currently blocked music streaming services in the near future.

“It really wouldn’t be fair to teachers (to unblock websites that use a lot of bandwidth),” Schaller said. “Even though a lot of students really seem to like Spotify and really like listening to music, it’s just not something we can do since the teachers need to access certain websites that they couldn’t get to with bandwidth being limited by student activity (on Spotify).”