Thanks for the reply, Cleo. I understand that Cinch is a workaround to avoid a internet connection, and that is not what I need for this project. My reason for trying out that route was that I thought Cinch might have some additional wifi utility that could help. I was hoping to be able to sort this out without going to the university IT, but I guess I'll need to do that.
If I do end up not being able to connect to wifi, and have to go with the Cinch option -- would that work with a classroom full of RPi/BrickPis? (I.e. making sure each student connects to their own robot.)