Whether it’s streaming from a phone, laptop or TV in a dorm, unwinding after class by binge-watching the latest season of the hottest new show is second-nature to many students.
Before this year, students living on-campus have been able to access live Xfinity channels and HBO through a service included in housing fees. The Xfinity-on-Campus service was a tiered service for students living on campus but what was offered varied from where you were watching.
“If the student who lived on campus accessed it from on campus, they would have access to more channels and features than if they logged in from off campus,” said Christopher Miller, director of Enterprise Infrastructure.
However, at the start of the fall quarter, the Xfinity-on-Campus service was removed after reviewing survey responses and listening to feedback from Western Washington University students living on campus.
Director of University Residences Leonard Jones said that a survey filled out by 896 Western residents revealed that just 14% of students living on-campus were using the Xfinity-on-Campus service.
“The majority of the students use their own Netflix accounts, [and] Hulu’s,” Assistant Director of University Residences Anja Engledow said. “They have their own streaming services that they use.”
The Xfinity-on-Campus service was not provided to students free of charge.The fees for the service were included in the housing fees for students living on campus. The Xfinity service costs around $12,000 per month totaling $144,000 for 12 months, with an additional charge that the university was paying.
“You have all the on-campus residents paying for the cable that less than 14% is using,” Engledow said.
Even with small usage numbers, the change did not go unnoticed by students.
Second-year student Charla Larson, a resident advisor in the Fairhaven Community, said she first noticed the difference over the summer. At first, she just wasn’t able to log in to the service, but when classes started back up and the access didn’t resume, she realized it had been removed.
“I’m kinda pissed because I feel like we already have so much on our plates. We are already stressed and students already pay so much to live on campus,” Larson said. “We need to de-stress and I feel like de-stressing could be sitting down and watching a show.”
Streaming service rates are rising and students like Larson are having to cancel their subscriptions because they aren’t able to afford the fees.
Larson did notice that many other students were not aware that the Xfinity streaming service was part of the cost of living in the dorms. It wasn’t until she talked to the Xfinity booth at the info fair last year that she discovered the service and how to use it.
“Unless you directly sought out the Xfinity booth, or if you directly tried to contact Western, then you wouldn’t have found out because they didn’t clearly advertise it,” Larson said.
The Western Residence survey did find that 16% of residents didn’t know how to use Xfinity-on-campus and 15% didn’t know about the service, 31% of residents said they preferred other streaming services over Xfinity-on-Campus.
Those hoping to bring the Xfinity streaming service back students are taking to social media. A series of posts made to an anonymous student-run Instagram account titled @newwwuvoice sparked the initial conversation around the service’s cancellation.
Larson hopes to spread information about the streaming service in order to get students to email Western about renewing the contract.
“I think if we email Western and we annoy the hell out of them, then they will finally give in and be like, ‘OK fine, we have to,’” Larson said.
If students do have questions or concerns, Jones, the director of university residences, said that students can reach out to their resident directors or resident advisors. Jones also encourages students to participate in the Dessert with the Director event that is hosted every year.
“We listen to students in their environment at a time that is convenient for them,” Jones said. “We have several ways that people can reach out and just let us know what they think.”