NACOGDOCHES, Texas — With schools moving education online across the world, Stephen F. Austin State University understands access to high-speed internet is more critical than ever and is inviting area K-12 students to use campus Wi-Fi and computer labs.
“The need for online learning due to COVID-19 has made high-speed internet a requirement for so many students,” said Tim Lewallen, assistant director for customer service in SFA’s Information Technology Services. “We recognize that many in the community do not have high-speed internet available where they live, so our intent is for this initiative to aid those students. We recognize the value of an education and want to assist local students in any way possible.”
For years, SFA has offered Wi-Fi access to the public through a campus sponsorship program. Previously, a faculty or staff member was required to sponsor an individual’s account. The sponsorship requirement has since been removed.
“While we currently have instructions for campus visitors to connect to the SFA-Guest network, we will be producing instructions that are specific to K-12 students and their guardians,” Lewallen said. “Guest wireless services are available all over campus, but it would be best for our visitors to limit themselves to the Baker Pattillo Student Center and Steen Library.”
Though not part of it, the offering is in line with an initiative by Nacogdoches Independent School District called Dragon Connect, where locations across the city are placing signs to signal that students may use the location’s Wi-Fi. However, Lewallen specified that any Nacogdoches County student may connect to SFA’s Wi-Fi.
“All students are welcome to come to our campus and use it, regardless of where they are enrolled,” he added.
Unlike some of the other local Wi-Fi locations, SFA is in a particularly unique position to offer internet access in a setting already geared toward education. Rather than sitting in cars or on park benches, students have access to “special academic spaces with furniture and technology specifically geared toward optimal study environments,” Lewallen said.
In addition to Wi-Fi access, a select number of campus computers in the Library Information Network Center, or LINC lab, are available to students in need.
“We also have public-use computers in our Steen Library LINC lab that are available to local area K-12 students,” Lewallen said. “Guests to campus who have issues or questions should visit the LINC computer lab’s help desk on the first floor of Steen Library.”
Visitors to campus must follow COVID-19 guidelines, which include wearing a mask in all indoor spaces as well as maintaining a safe social distance from others. An adult must accompany any child under the age of 13 while in the library.
For more information on connecting to SFA’s Wi-Fi, visit help.sfasu.edu.