On March 30, sophomore LeAnn Taggart woke up to her roommate yelling at the computer. Sophomore class registration for fall semester had begun at 8 a.m., and like many students, Taggart and her roommate were unable to log in to EagleLink in order to access the registration page.
Taggart said she attempted to access the website on several computers, and when she was unable to get through, she began calling the Office of the Registrar. After 45 minutes of busy signals, she was able to reach the office and have them register for her.
“By that time some of my classes were gone, which is depressing on so many levels,” Taggart said.
According to Acting Registrar Michael Donlan, approximately 200 students contacted the Office of the Registrar with problems directly stemming from the issue with EagleLink.
“One out of every three people or so were having problems,” Donlan said.
The failure was due to an issue with the EagleLink “portal,” the webpage that links to a number of UMW online services, including Banner, Blackboard and EagleOne. Because the issue did not effect EagleLink as a whole or the self service entrance to log into Banner, the Department of Information and Technology were able to provide an alternative log-in by 12 p.m.
Donlan said that the Office of the Registrar has several emergency plans in place for technology problems, and providing an alternative log in was “Plan B.”
“Technology will unfortunately fail you at the most inconvenient times, and we did the best we could for students,” he said.
The failure could have been caused by a number of factors, including the increased number of students slated to register this year. According to Justin Webb, director of applications programming, the exact cause of the failure is still being determined.
“We will continue to investigate all of these variables in an effort to determine what specifically caused delays and issues for users, but there are many possibilities to rule out,” Webb said.
After the alternative login was provided, the number of students reporting problems to the technology department decreased. However, many students were still affected.
“Our records indicate that of the 925 students that registered for fall courses on Monday, 669 of those were able to successfully register online,” Webb said in an e-mail. “256 users registered through the help of the Registrar’s office.”
Donlan said that his office usually has about 50 students register in person due to problems with pre-requisites or scheduling confusion.
“There are registration issues here and there, but nothing of this magnitude,” he said.
All students who came into the office or called had their registration entered manually for them. Donlan said that while some students were upset, the process within the office went smoothly, and most of the situations brought to him were resolved.
“There were no real crises that I know of that we weren’t able to resolve,” he said.
Still, many students like Taggart, who is a political science major, saw classes that they needed or wanted fill up before they could register.
“Two (classes) I know were there before 8 a.m. registration,” she said. “I’ll probably get what I want anyway, but my first week will be really stressful going to eight different classes and trying to force-add.”
Donlan said that affected students do not have many options beyond attempting to force-add classes or wait for other students to drop. However, students may contact the Office of the Registrar for help with their schedules and registration if necessary.
“We’re here to help,” he said.
Once the Department of Information Technology has determined the cause of the failure, planning to prevent similar issues can go into place.
“We have several contingency plans in place, but those are often invoked when systems go down or are unavailable for a majority of students,” James Webb said. “We will be working within IT, with the Registrar’s Office, and with other groups to determine the best steps to prevent future registration issues.”
No major problems have been reported with the freshman registration on April 1, nor were any similar issues reported during registration periods other than Monday.
“The senior registration went so well,” Donlan said. “There were minimal students in here. Today (was) freshman registration, and it’s been quiet.”
The Office of the Registrar will continue to look at problems with registration and work to improve the system.
“Obviously we apologize for what happened, and obviously we’ll see that this never happens again,” Donlan said.