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The school I work at has a dedicated wifi network for student use, along with networks for guests and faculty/staff/laptop carts. In order to join any network other than our guest wifi, your device’s MAC address must be in our system and associated with the right SSID, and in order for students to get their MACs in the system, they (and their parents) have to sign an Acceptable Use agreement which states that they have read and understand sections of the student handbook concerning cyber-bullying, appropriate content and use, etc.

This document is easily available. It can be downloaded from the student and parent portals. It can be found in the student handbook itself, a copy of which I assume all students have at least seen at some point in their lives, whether or not they’ve actually read the thing. Once they’ve had the form signed once, they never have to touch the thing again.

And yet, there seems to be a sizable contingent of students who can’t be bothered to get the form signed.

The problem is that our guest network is only secured with a password. The official policy is that the guest network is only for guests, and faculty and staff are not to give the password out to students, but, as many students will attest, there are many members of the faculty who are all too willing to give the password out to students they trust. Of course these are middle and high school students, and no matter how much you trust them, they’re still going to give the wifi password to at least one of their friends, and there’s no expectation of secrecy at that point. If one student has the wifi password, every student who wants it will be able to get it.

What’s the big deal, though? Can’t I just change the password?

Well, yes, but we have sixteen access points on campus, and because we don’t have a wireless controller unit, they have to be managed individually. If I’m especially speedy, I can get the password changed on all of them in about twenty minutes, and even if it’s a good policy to change such passwords regularly, it’s a bit silly to have to change it twice in three days. That’s most of an hour that I could better spend doing other things.

When I brought this up with my partner, she suggested a change to the network policy that I like more every time I think about it. Any member of the faculty or staff who gives out the guest wifi password to any number of students will, on their first offense, owe the sysadmin (that’s me) lunch. On the second offense, they will owe the sysadmin lunch and a pan of brownies. Every subsequent offense will be worth one pizza party for the entire tech office.

While I work to make this an official policy (and try to figure out a way to police it so I can actually claim those lunches), I suggest that anyone who is in a similar situation (one in which non-compliance with a stated or written policy causes otherwise unnecessary drudgery for one or more people) try to institute such a policy themselves, and if you figure out a good way to police it, please let me know in the comments.


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