iPad banned from several American universities over 'security' concerns

Three high-profile American universities, Cornell University, Princeton University, and George Washington University, have banned the iPad from their campuses. George Washington University and Princeton University call the device a “security risk,” while Cornell is concerned about students chewing through too much bandwidth. So much for the iPad being the darling of higher education.

The story, first reported in the Wall Street Journal, notes that the iPad is incompatible with certain security features of Cornell’s and GWU’s wireless network, something that’s not the case when you’re dealing with “regular” laptops and netbooks running full operating systems in Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux.

It isn’t a case of these universities “hating” the iPad, or unfairly singling it out, it’s just that it’s not compatible. Please put down your pitchforks, Apple fans.

All the schools are working on making sure the iPad works with their networks as soon as possible, maybe even in time for the beginning of the fall semester. These things—restructuring a large network—take quite a bit of time.

It’s not the first time that Apple products have had a hard time on college campuses. When the iPhone was first released, in 2007, Duke University couldn’t accommodate the sudden rush of Wi-Fi devices trying to connect to its network. As our very own Scott Merrill, of the Ohio State University IT department, tells me, people have to understand that the IT departments in many of these schools are run on shoe-string budgets (or close to it). They buy equipment—Wi-Fi access points and the like—with a certain number of computers and devices in mind, and then Apple (or any other company for that matter) releases a terribly popular product. All of a sudden, students have multiple Wi-Fi devices on their person at all times, and it’s simply too much for the network to handle.

A couple of years ago, how many Wi-Fi devices did you own? Maybe one laptop, right? Today you could be walking around with a netbook, iPhone, Zune HD, Nintendo DS or Sony PSP, you name it.

So, give these schools a minute or two to figure things out. It’s not as easy as flipping a light switch.