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Wednesday, August 2, 2006

False starts

Posted on Wed, Aug 2, 2006 at 12:21 PM

I though posting a bit of as-it-happens news from Ahmed "satellite dish guy" Assal's human rights case would be fitting way to innaugurate our new blog. Silly me. I forgot the hearing is happening at the Dal SUB, and you never know what's going to happen when you're dealing with the Dalhousie University behemoth. Even though a poster informed me "YOU ARE NOW ENTERING A DALHOUSIE WIRELESS ZONE" the instant I set foot in the Student Union Building, actually getting online to use ye olde internette was impossible.

The SUB help desk said: It's no problem to get online, you just need your student number. Me: I'm not a student. SUBhelp: Oh. Maybe you should try the computer centre. Me: Oh joy, a trip to the basement of the Killam library. (WTF?)

After scuttling through the horrible rat-maze corridors of the Killam basement to the help desk, I explained my situation to the staffer on duty, stressing words like "reporter," "human rights," "filing a story." I was told a Dal student or employee would have to vouch for me. Me: Can you vouch for me, please? Quote-unquote helper: Let me get my manager. This repeats a few more times. As I am sent from person to person up the basement's chain of command, I keep adding in more words to strengthen my case ("I have ID and a business card," "can I pay for access," "alumni") and am consistently denied ("security," "you could do anything if we let you online," "it's fully open ").

They're probably being smart to err on the side of caution. Although yesterday when the human rights tribunal started, it was frustrating. Walking back into the Sub's WIRELESS ZONE, I got a bit of a feeling where Ahmed Assal is coming from. I'm not saying getting wi-fi access at Dal is a human right: I was just thwarted trying to do a tech stunt that could wait until I got to another access point. But it's easy to see how Assal could get mightily frustrated trying to watch TV in his native language when everyone around gets their English prgrams no problem. So is an Arabic satellite dish a human right? We'll know as soon as the tribunal decides.

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