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Report of the Executive of SFURA regarding cessation of dial-up access
19 February 2008
On 26 Jan. 2008, Jim Cranston informed the SFU community that on 31 March
2008, as a cost-cutting measure, the dial-up service (via telephone
modems) to the SFU computer network would be discontinued. (Archived at
Some of you have expressed concern about the cessation of free dial-up
The Executive of the Association, on your behalf, has been looking into
the matter and discussing it with the principals concerned, both within
our membership and within the Administration. Our Report to the
Membership is as follows.
First of all, all e-mail addresses at SFU, e.g.
will remain exactly as they have been. You will not need to inform
any of your email correspondents of a change-of-address.
All that will be changed is the means of access, from off-campus, to the
University?s computer network (which includes the email utilities).
For the last several years (and up until 31 March of this year), you have
been (/will be) able to access (?tap into?) the SFU network either (i) by
dial-up telephone service (using a modem installed within or connected to
your off-campus computer) or (ii) through the services of an Internet
Service Provider (ISP) using telephone wires or a (high-speed) coaxial
cable. In the latter case most of you have bought a ?package?
(?bundle?) of services (local phone, long distance phone, analog TV,
digital TV, AM-FM, Internet, etc.) from a variety of providers (Telus,
With the discontinuation of the dial-up modem service, persons using that
means of access will have to purchase access through an Internet Service
Provider. The SFURA Executive cannot recommend any particular ISP,
but a search in Google will turn up a number of providers operating in
the lower mainland whose prices range from less than $10/month upwards to
some tens-of-dollars per month. Enter
+ ?Internet Service Provider?
[with the quotation marks] into Google.
Some of you have submitted a number of arguments as to why dial-up
service should be maintained. We would like to address some of your
One argument has been that retirees are ?entitled? to this service, or,
that it has been ?promised? or ?pledged? to the retirees. The
Executive can find nothing in our minutes, records, or correspondence
that sanctions this belief. To the best of our (collective)
knowledge, there simply is no such understanding between this Association
and the University Administration.
To be sure, the retirees have enjoyed free dial-up service (within
certain restrictions) to the University?s network. But this has
been a privilege, not a right. And inasmuch as it has been a
privilege (like our being able to use the Library; occasional, limited,
free parking in the Parkade; supplemental financial assistance from the
President; the use of office space; the use of the Halpren Centre; etc.),
we must understand and agree to the occasional modification, and even
withdrawal, of some of these privileges. In short, privileges are
not rights or entitlements.
Back in 1993-6 a fairly protracted and intense dispute broke out between
SFU employees and the SFU Administration over the Administration?s
proposal to charge its employees for dial-up service to the
University. The employees? protest/argument at that time was that,
in effect, the Administration was proposing to charge its employees to
do their work. It was seen by the employees, and eventually the
Administration, that dial-up services for employees should be viewed akin
to providing employees with office space, photocopying, duplicating
services, telephones, email, etc. -- viz. the shared tools needed to do
But the foregoing argument that employees need free dial-up access
to the University?s network does not apply to retirees.
Retirees, typically (there are a tiny number of exceptions), are not
using their dial-up connections to conduct the business of the
University. And those few who are still working for the University
or are conducting research almost invariably are not relying on low-speed
modems; they are using high-speed access provided by commercial
If there are, in fact, any retirees who are continuing to work for
the University in some formal, recognized manner, we suggest that they
negotiate with their Units/Faculties/Departments/etc. to fund a purchased
connection from a commercial ISP. And if there are any retirees who
are conducting (parts of their) research via dial-up services to the
University (we certainly have not learned of any such persons), we
suggest that they use a modest portion of their research grants, or
assistance from their publishers, etc., to fund a purchased connection
from a commercial ISP.
At its meeting of 14 February 2008, the Executive Board of the SFU
Retirees Association voted unanimously to take no further action
on the matter of the pending cessation of dial-up services at
If you need help making the transition
Some of you may need some technical help in making the transition to
using a commercial Internet Service Provider. Generally, ISPs offer
help to new customers -- that should be your first recourse.
But if you find that you are still ?at sea? (so to speak), contact the
Executive of SFURA (email@example.com), tell us a bit about the
nature of the difficulty you are having, and we will try to match you
with a person who will likely be able to help you. Finally, Jim
Cranston (firstname.lastname@example.org) in a recent letter to the Executive Board
has written ?I and my staff would be more than happy to assist with this
Norman Swartz, President
on behalf of the Executive Board