Fifth Former Owen Yu knew the feeling all too well: walking into school in the morning and listening to music. All of the sudden, the music stops. The phone connects to the Haverford student wifi, and a firewall renders Spotify useless.
“When I first walked into school on the day that Spotify was unblocked, and my music just played the next song, let me tell you, it felt great,” Yu said. “It felt like I entered a new world.”
Fifth Former Matthew Kang echoes Yu’s sentiments.
“It was definitely a feeling of victory. All this hardship, all this suffering that all Haverford students have endured for years—that has finally come to an end.”Matthew Kang ’23
“It was definitely a feeling of victory. All this hardship, all this suffering that all Haverford students have endured for years—that has finally come to an end. It’s vindicating. It’s just—I can’t put it into words how happy I am,” Kang said.
Kang, through all of his bliss, reveals a historical truth about Haverford: students have had to deal with firewalls restricting their internet use at school for a long time.
Ms. Andrea Drinkwine, the Director of Information & Instructional Technology, remembers such firewalls since the time she arrived at Haverford over eight years ago.
“I can’t really speak to what was going on before that, but from that point on [eight years ago], we had instituted a next-generation firewall that allowed us to be able to control what was open and was not open in a more efficient way.”
While blocking Spotify didn’t entirely restrict students’ ability to listen to music at school, the restriction sent a message of regulation to much of the student body. However, controlling how students spend their free time was never the goal of blocking Spotify.
“It was never the intent, like, oh, we don’t want students listening to music,” Ms. Drinkwine said.
In fact, Spotify was only blocked as a way to decrease the pressure put on the school wifi’s bandwidth and keep the websites that are essential for classes running smoothly. But this message hasn’t seemed to have made it to students, and many, including student body president Mitav Nayak, assumed there were different motives for the block.
“I thought that they didn’t want kids to listen to music, that’s why they blocked Spotify. And I think that it might just be because we’re thinking it’s ‘us versus them’ where it’s really not.”Mitav Nayak ’22
“I thought that they didn’t want kids to listen to music, that’s why they blocked Spotify. And I think that it might just be because we’re thinking it’s ‘us versus them’ where it’s really not,” Nayak said. “I think it’s just miscommunication maybe.”
Nayak has served as the much-needed link between faculty and students concerning technology. When a group of students including Kang and Yu were upset with the school’s Spotify policy last year, they turned to the newly-elected Mitav.
“I think we were trying to listen to music or something, and at one point we were all just like, man, it would be great if Spotify was unblocked,” Yu said of an advisory period last year. “So, we all had Mitav’s number, and we were just like, hey, why don’t we just message Mitav and ask?”
Once Mitav received the feedback from the group of students, he got to work, bringing up the Spotify question at student council meetings dating back to the summer and sending out a poll with a question about it to the student body in the fall. Indeed, when Mitav met with Ms. Drinkwine to present the request to unblock the app, he was prepared.
“80% of kids said that they would benefit from Spotify being unblocked,” Nayak said. “[Ms. Drinkwine] said she decided that yes she can [unblock it], give it like a one-week try.”
Ms. Drinkwine hasn’t seen any negative impacts on the bandwidth from Spotify so far, and students all over the upper school are enjoying music once again.
“I think [unblocking Spotify] is one of the greatest things a Haverford president has done in the last 15 or so years,” Kang joked.