One Month in, Students Adjusting to Lack of Campus Cable Television

Students watch television in the Musselman Hall common room (Photo Claire Bickers / The Gettysburgian)

Students watch television in the Musselman Hall common room (Photo Claire Bickers / The Gettysburgian)

By Jeremy Porter, Staff Writer

This semester marks the start of reduced cable television availability at Gettysburg College. The decision, made last year, was part of an effort spearheaded by the college’s Information Technology department to increase the internet bandwidth on campus. While students could previously hook up to cable television in their rooms on campus, cable access is now restricted to common rooms, the Jaeger Center, and the Attic (the Bullet Hole is also part of the plan, but the temporary building does not have televisions).

Naturally, many students have had to change their media consumption habits and routines.

Netflix and other streaming services seem to be a popular alternative to cable television.

“I only use Netflix, and [my suitemates and I] recently upgraded so that four people can watch at the same time,” says senior Sabrina D’Mello, who lives in a Quarry suite.

Sophomores Ben Rhine and Jackson Guyton, who both live in College Houses, do the same, the latter commenting that he watches “television with Netflix and Amazon Prime on the computer.”

While common rooms serve as one of the few sources of cable television on campus, it appears that they are not often used for this purpose, perhaps because students prefer watching their favorite shows in private and would rather use the common room as a study or meeting space.

“I saw people using the common room one day early in the semester, but other than that I haven’t seen anyone use it,” said D’Mello.

Sarah Kirkpatrick, a sophomore resident of Writing House, concurs.

“Students…in the Writing House occasionally watch television in the common room, but for the most part, people like to watch Netflix in their rooms instead,” she said.

Jennifer Johnson, a first-year student living in Paul Hall, explains that sometimes her floormates “watch movies in the common room,” but that ultimately, the common room “is more like a conference room, so [the television] is rarely used, though some people do it.”

Some students, however, are not satisfied with streaming.

“This year, I have a single and was hoping to get into the routine of watching my favorite shows from home on cable each week at its air time. Because of the policy change, I do not feel comfortable doing this as I feel it is unfair to claim communal TV privileges at certain times each week in my house,” says Kirkpatrick.

Senior Harmony House resident Luke Gaylor echoes a similar sentiment.

“I love watching Saturday Night Live,” he said, “but without cable I can’t watch it until the episode is posted on Sunday, and I have to hope I don’t see any spoilers. Additionally, livestreaming for NBC isn’t even available in the Adams County area, and you have to pay for streaming services.”

While the decision has been met with mixed reactions among students, the administration insists that it was a necessary and responsible move.

“The increase in [internet] traffic is beyond the internet capacity we had finishing the spring semester…. If we had not increased the internet bandwidth over the summer, the campus network would have experienced significant impairments this fall,” says Vice President of Information Technology Rod Tosten.

Additionally, the Campus TV FAQ page on the Information Technology department website states that “the demand and usage of the campus TV system has declined in recent years,” and the college is simply “right-sizing the campus TV system to match demand.”

It further explains that the switch will not put a financial strain on the college, because while “the increased internet bandwidth in and out of the campus will cost more, IT is using savings from the restructured campus TV system to cover the increased costs.”

Gaylor believes that this is not the issue.

“I understand that cable television use is declining and that the decision will not cost the college extra money,” he explained. “It just seems like there are better ways they could have done this. For instance, students could indicate at the start of the year whether they will use cable television, and the college could keep or remove each student’s individual room access accordingly. Or, the college could provide students with an account to a streaming service.”

However, Tosten made it clear that it was imperative to increase the internet bandwidth by the fall, and doing so with as balanced a budget as possible is of utmost importance to the college.

For now, no change seems likely with respect to cable access in students’ rooms, but discontent among some students remains palpable.

Gaylor lamented, “You can’t take away cable access from students’ rooms when many theme houses and motels don’t have common rooms.”

 

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Author: Jeremy Porter

Jeremy Porter '20, who hails from from Belle Mead, New Jersey, is a staff writer for the Gettysburgian. He is majoring in history and minoring in music and French. Jeremy plays the French horn with the college's wind symphony and symphony orchestra, and is a member of the Bullets Marching Band. His favorite spot on campus is the Musselman Library porch, looking out onto Pennsylvania and Glatfelter Halls. An avid baseball fan, he dreams of someday visiting every Major League Baseball stadium.

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