Staff Editorial: When technology goes bad

We have Information Systems and Services to thank for making GW one of the 100 most- wired universities in America, but this year’s perpetual flaws with online services dulls our adulation. Regular Webmail disorder and recent housing selection snafus have plagued students, causing confusion and frustration to ferment. The administration would be wise to encourage ISS to better prepare its applications to avoid these problems that many students associate with poor overall administrative responsiveness.

In the most recent of a string of housing selection problems caused by malfunctioning software, rising sophomores were double booked into New Hall rooms Saturday, causing system administrators to bring down housing selection for three hours. The eventual conclusion? They messed up, but now everyone will have to live with the problem. Those double booked will be given similar accommodations in New Hall, giving rising sophomores more of the coveted New Hall rooms than they were supposed to receive.

Juniors and seniors should be upset. Housing Services should have restarted the whole process once ISS recognized the problem. Housing Services’ main argument as to why intent-to-return numbers were reassigned in the last housing snafu was because they did not want the process to seem unfair. But the New Hall selection is legitimately unfair. Sophomores should not receive more of the best rooms on campus because of a software problem.

Upperclassmen may be further discouraged from living on campus because the glitch left them with fewer desired rooms. Though only 20 extra beds were lost to underclassmen, it would not be surprising if the University ends up with a lot of open beds because disenfranchised juniors and seniors drop out of the housing selection process.

This year’s housing selection, even with three extra months to prepare, has been flawed since day one – and it is mostly due to problems caused by ISS. Understanding that these are complicated applications and technology has a tendency to be unpredictable, Banner Applications and Webmail have been woefully inadequate, nonetheless.

In light of the recent problems with the University’s online technology, some students are wistful for the old days, when housing assignment took place in J Street. Turning back the clock is not the answer, however. Housing selection worked well last year, in its first year online, and it can be a very effective system. Hopefully, ISS will learn from the problems of this year and apply them to a smooth housing selection next year.

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