Technology issues plague university, spark solutions

Tyler Hoffman, Staff Reporter

Throughout the first weeks of September, multiple complications with CWRU technology influenced student life on a grand scale.

On the evening of Sept. 7, students were alerted that voting for the freshman Undergraduate Student Government representatives and for the Student Executive Council referendum would officially start at 8:00 a.m. on Sept. 8. However, with just one hour passing after the announcement, USG vice president of information technology Kelly Maloney released an email advising students to wait until the official opening of voting on Sept. 8. She cited that CollegiateLink, the web service that hosts the elections, was experiencing difficulties regarding user login.

Unfortunately, this single warning was an introduction to a variety of technological issues that complicated the voting process. One hour after the official launch of voting on Sept. 8, Maloney issued an email describing a CollegiateLink error that prevented voting on the referendum. Once a repair to the online ballot was installed, another announcement appeared in student inboxes, which also encouraged individuals that had previously voted to resubmit their votes. Over the course of the day, two more alerts illuminated further issues, including the absence of a candidate from the ballot and the ability of only the first candidate in an election to receive a vote.

Maloney met each arising situation with a quick response. But regardless, it also required many students to resubmit their votes for both the representatives and the referendum. “There were two main issues that occurred with the elections on CollegiateLink,” Maloney explained. “The main issue was a login issue with the CollegiateLink servers.” She added, “I believe the issue [was] due to a problem with the way CollegiateLink interfaces with Case single Sign-On, and the problem got worse with the heavy server load generated by [voter interest].”

Throughout the voting period, multiple concerns arose regarding the validity of the vote, especially in the context of the SEC referendum. The concerns were not without merit, for the referendum remains a key issue on campus. In April of 2010, the SEC voted to reduce the allocations of the Interfraternity Congress (IFC) and Panhellenic Council (PHC), citing that the two groups possessed a rollover of $83,950.67 and were unable to produce detailed financial information.

However, a petition signed by 10 percent of the undergraduate student body brought the vote to the whole of the undergraduate population. Those opposing the allocation cite the increased financial transparency of the IFC and PHC, along with the intention of the organizations to donate their rollover towards the Tinkham Veale III University Center.

Though the election was not without some turmoil, it remains evident that 940 individuals voted on the referendum; therefore voter turnout and results were determined to have not been affected by the technical difficulties. Regardless, USG is diligently addressing the reliability concerns. “We are being upgraded to a new version of CollegiateLink’s software very soon,” Maloney said, “Additionally, USG will implement a more rigorous pre-election testing procedure for the online voting system so that issues such as these can be found and fixed earlier.”

As student organizations battle with technology flaws, CWRU administration has also experienced technical concerns in the past weeks. On Sept. 10, an email originating from the Office of Undergraduate Studies was accidentally sent to all first and second year students.

The email contained an alias file that contained the email addresses of students, but no one’s confidentiality was breached. “The email that was mistakenly sent was triggered by responding to my assistant,” undergraduate studies assistant dean Claudia Anderson stated, “When I answered her email, I didn’t notice that the link to all first [and] second year students’ email addresses was included.”

Anderson also explained that the alias file was created to ensure that the email addresses could not be shared. “That alias file is protected and only those who need to use the file have access. No other individual or office is able to use that information,” she said.

Though the email reached a large amount of undergraduates, it was protected by advanced measures that ensured security. These protective features are placed among multiple aspects of the I.T. system and serve to protect the faculty and students that depend upon its services.

The reliance of staff and students upon university technology remains an obligatory aspect of everyday life. Given this known dependability, it remains evident that CWRU holds I.T. efficiency and security in high regard, allowing students to breathe easy as they turn on their computer and log online.