Dell recall, wireless on South, keep UNIT busy

Ally Taylor

In response to the Dell battery recall on Aug. 14, University Information Technologies has been working closely with the company to notify the Villanova community of the dilemma and identify the problematic machines. 

Dell contacted the University through a safety advisory letter to report that specific Villanova-issued and purchased laptops are affected by this recall.

“It took them two days,” said Robin Allen, Director of Technology Support Services in UNIT. “The first day was acknowledging the problem, then identifying and communicating.” 

 Initially, UNIT sent out an e-mail to all students, faculty and staff at Villanova to inform them of the problem, providing the press release and the Web site to identify affected machines. The University then worked with Dell to identify 180 specific machines purchased by Villanova, 150 belonging to students. 

 “We have a list of the service tags that Dell provided, so we can match them up with who we assigned them to,” Allen said. By Aug. 18, UNIT contacted all the affected individuals through e-mail. 

 Dell issued a press release and recall when it learned that Sony batteries used in some laptop models were overheating and causing fires. The company believes that approximately 4.1 million laptop batteries are affected. 

“From their standpoint, it was really a precautionary measure,” Allen said, reporting that Dell knew of six incidents of overheating due to the batteries. Allen said that UNIT has received no complaints of Dell batteries overheating at the University.

 However it is important that students, faculty and staff take this recall seriously. Allen advises the affected individuals to remove their batteries from the laptops and use only the power cords. 

So far, only one or two affected students have approached UNIT to replace their batteries. 

“I don’t really have a lot of inventory right now, not expecting this to happen,” Allen said, adding later, “What we’re waiting on is product availability.” 

Allen was unsure how long it will take to get replacements from Dell for the recalled batteries, but encourages all students, faculty and staff to work through the University rather than contact Dell individually. 

 “For us, it’s a convenience thing,” she said. By working through UNIT, individuals will only have to return their old batteries to be given new ones immediately (once they become accessible).

 According to the safety letter issued by Dell to the University, this option is only available for individuals who were issued laptops by or who purchased laptops through Villanova. Anyone who privately purchased a Dell laptop must contact Dell directly. 

 Villanova has a partnership with Dell to provide specially configured laptops to students in the School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as some graduate programs. Other students may purchase Dell computers through the University with recommended hardware and software.

Over 3,500 current students, faculty and staff use Dell laptops issued by or purchased through the University. 

When asked if the battery recall would affect the University’s partnership with Dell, Allen said that it would not.

“It’s been a very positive experience working with Dell,” she said. “They’ve handled it nicely; they’re doing the right thing as far as the University is concerned. This isn’t a deal breaker.” Dell will be shipping the replacements at no cost and provide the University postage labels to return the faulty batteries.

Due to the increased number of incoming freshmen, UNIT has installed wireless internet in all of the South campus residence halls except Stanford over the summer.

The decision to focus on South campus was directly a result of the increased number of tripled rooms in Katharine, St. Monica, McGuire, Caughlin and Good Counsel halls.

“We had more triples than anticipated, so we were forced to pull wire or put wireless in,” director of network and communications Bob Mays said, adding that wireless was the much more cost effective and logical option over adding more land connections to tripled rooms that were previously doubles. This addition affects approximately 1,100 South campus residents.

In addition to South campus, wireless is in the process of being added to Mendel Hall and the Saint Augustine Center.

“When we put the laptop program in Engineering, we put wireless in CEER. When we put the laptop program in Business, we put wireless in Bartley,” Mays said. Now that the laptop program has been extended to include Arts & Sciences, the primary buildings used by those colleges have also been included.

Wireless internet should be functioning in SAC by the end of this week and in Mendel “sometime in the near future,” Mays said.

UNIT intends to eventually have the entire campus, including residence halls, connected by wireless internet.

“We’re going to have to prioritize where we put it,” Mays said, but stressed that UNIT has not picked locations as of now.