Technology woes plague campus

n the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Vermont State College network went down causing much stress among students and faculty.

The outage occurred because the main network for all of the schools is located in Waterbury at Stanley Hall, according to Castleton Chief Technology Officer Gayle Malinowski.

“The data center, where all the equipment was located was on the second floor, so it was fine. However all the power was located on the basement and first floor, so when the power died everything else came down.”

Without the network working, students could not access the Internet, portal, Moodle or check their student e-mail accounts.  All have since been turned back on, but not without a chaotic first week.

Without any way to check the portal, many students spent the first day of the school semester searching for classes. 

“I was not able to get on [the network] and get my class schedule, so I had to look it up by hand.  I was not able to get any of my assignments on Moodle.  It was very inconvenient for me,” said Castleton Student Zachary Draper.

Student Alex Thomas agreed, saying figuring out where to go and at what time “was increasingly difficult.”

As a result, students flooded the Student Services office looking for help, according to the office’s Administrative Assistant Tina Betit.

Betit approximates that close to “80 percent” of students went into Student Services to check their schedule and classrooms during the first week. 

“That is probably not even counting students who could not make it to school… we also got a lot of phone calls,” she said.

Internet service was back on Monday evening and as the week went on one of the major problem was the inability for students to check their e-mail account.     

“One of the conversations we will be having after all the mess is cleaned up is trying to figure out some way to implement some redundant systems to make sure that problem does not happen again,” Malinowski said.

Students were not the only ones on campus affected by the network outage though.  It was also frustrating to faculty members who just wanted to help students or teach their courses.

One of the major problems of the network outage was that not only were students unable to find ways to get their  course lists, but the faculty were largely unable to help. 

“It’s unfortunate, because you felt like you could not help students or help faculty,” said Castleton Registar Lori Arner.

“I do not know how I would run class” said Castleton communication Professor Andrew Wilson, who teaches Introduction To Computer Arts and Humanity, about the outage if it continued . 

One thing that should not be overlooked during these times though is how students and faculty can over

come a potentially irritating issue and be productive, Arner said. 

“[Faculty and staff] were pretty understanding” she said. 

Malinowski agreed.

“Given the huge nature of the flooding and everything happening statewide…[faculty and staff ] were very, very understanding and patient about what they could not get access to,” she said.


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