Students erupt in anger over Internet glitch

UNLEASHING RAGE::The university said it had not intentionally severed the connection, but students protested the Internet shutdown by calling for the president’s resignation

By Fang Chih-hsien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 3

Students at I-Shou University in Greater Kaohisung’s Dashu District (大樹) on Thursday exploded in anger for 20 minutes after their Internet connections were suddenly cut, with students demanding answers from school authorities about the shoddy Internet connections and complaining of “unreasonable” usage limitations.

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, the Internet connection for the school’s first and second dormitories were disconnected. Suspecting that the school authorities had deliberately severed the Internet connection, the students became angry and started shouting.

The dormitory complexes affected house about 4,700 people, with the first complex housing a mix of male and female students in four buildings, and the second housing 1,400 students.

The male students in building D of the first dormitory complex were the most vociferous in their protests, taking out glow-sticks left over from New Year’s Eve and setting off firecrackers, with some calling for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to step down as they shouted out slogans against media monopolization.

The students were referring to a deal signed by a consortium in November last year to buy Hong Kong-based Next Media Group’s media businesses in Taiwan. The controversial deal is still pending government approval. Members of the consortium include Want Want China Times Group chairman Tsai Eng-meng (蔡衍明), who made his fortune selling rice crackers in China. He already owns a substantial share of the media in Taiwan. If the deal goes through, he would own nearly 50 percent of the nation’s media.

According to school officials, the university dormitories limit Internet usage after 12am to prevent students from staying up all night gaming or watching movies. Since the school’s main server was changed in September, users are disconnected once they exceed a certain usage time limit, and their computers are locked outside the network.

One first-year college student, surnamed Wu (吳), said the university had experienced problems with its network since the change of the server, adding that the Internet would often crash when students were playing online games.

“When the Internet was disconnected on Thursday, it was the last straw and everyone wanted an answer,” he said.

A third-year student surnamed Pan (潘) said that he was not opposed to usage restrictions to limit gaming or students from spending time on the PPS Web site, a software application allowing users to connect to video streams online, but that the restrictions were also affecting students who were attempting to use the Internet after 12am for academic research.

“I’ve mentioned the issue to the school authorities quite a few times, but it still has not been dealt with,” Pan said.

The ruckus died down 20 minutes later, when the school’s staff came to announce that the Internet was working again.

University spokesman Chou Chao-min (周兆民) said the school had not intentionally severed the Internet connection and that the disconnect had been due to a malfunction.

“We used the backup server for temporary replacement until the main server was fixed,” Chou said, adding that “the school wished to extend its apologies to the other students and citizens living nearby for the interruption of their sleep.”

The school said it would not punish the students, but would seek to teach them that such behavior is not appropriate, Chou said, adding that the school would also look into the Internet restrictions hampering student efforts to use the Internet for academic purposes.