Columbia University’s Medical Center, like many university campuses, has many WiFi access points. To meet HIPAA privacy regulations all their wireless networks require use of VPNs or sophisticated encryption protocols.
Connecting to their athens wireless network, which uses IEEE-802.1x authentication, is a little non-obvious with Linux, but is possible given your wireless card supports WPA and works with wpa_supplicant.
To save the many weeks I spent fiddling, the magic wpa_supplicant.conf stanza that works for me:
Replace foo with your Columbia University UNI and bar with your password.