Recently, there has been a series of escalating fiascos regarding the Office of Information Technology and its relationship with the rest of the Seattle University community. Students and faculty appear to be distressed over difficulties printing and an administrative error on an email that resulted in a thread over 700 messages long that was sent to the entire Seattle U community.
In the aftermath of what OIT called the “Reply All Storm”—AKA #ReplyAllSU on Twitter—and the ongoing printer issues, student frustration has been brought to a breaking point.
The “Reply All Storm” was the result of an administrator error in tandem with a technical error that allowed all those who received the original email to simply hit “reply all” and thus send a message to all those addressed in the original message. A similar situation happened a few years ago, but not on the scale in which this “Reply All Storm” did, and it’s something that has occurred at other schools as well (A New York University reply all email saga made headlines several years ago.) But the “Reply All Storm” isn’t what has students angrily muttering to themselves and running between computer labs before class.
“I haven’t been able to print from the library basically all quarter and it’s driving me insane,” said freshman Jerry Roost. “I understand that we’re in transit in terms of printer systems, but I thought we were upgrading. So far my experience with the new printer has been worse than with the old ones.”
Roost is not alone in his frustration. According to him, he is the only one of his friend group whose account seems incapable of connecting to the new SU-Print-Queue destination, but he knows of students in his classes who are having similar problems.
“I just don’t understand how this problem could have been allowed to last as long as it has,” he said.
The printer overhaul, which began in earnest this January, has been many years in the making and, according to OIT, has been a sorely needed campus improvement.
“I met with the cabinet about a year ago to pitch this manage print transition, and what I told the cabinet was that, at the time, we had a pretty crappy printing situation,” said Chuck Porter, the chief information officer at Seattle U. “I wasn’t happy with student access, ease of use or convenience. So I pitched managed print services as a way to provide much better student service and much greater convenience and ease of use for faculty and staff.”
The actual installation of the new system is scheduled to take place over four phases. According to Porter, the first phase was recently completed; work on the second is ready to start and completion is expected sometime in mid-March.
Each phase is composed of multiple steps. According to Porter, the first step is delivering the new printer to the building it will be servicing before it can be connected to the network. Next, OIT has to do some “data center stuff,” like managing queues, and then it can be turned on.
While just about all of the computers around campus have undergone a software download process to be prepared for MPS, an unforeseen complication regarding the V-Lab Image in these devices has been causing problems.
About two weeks ago, during a regular system update, that new VDI was broken, causing intermittent consistency issues in the MPS diver software and VDI. This essentially means that some students, not all, will be left without printing capacity until the problem has been resolved.
“It’s one of those things that just happens. We tested, we didn’t anticipate that we would break it, but we have seen a consistency problem with the software that we are working to track down and fix” said Porter.
This consistency problem, along with a pair of other hiccups regarding Windows XP and Mac OSX 10.6 devices—the operating systems are too old to handle the new software—are being addressed.
While no exact date was given for when those problems would be resolved, it was suggested that OIT will have the problems sorted out “very soon,” according to Porter.
“Every time I try to print from the library it just says ‘status unavailable,’” said junior Emily Parstip. “I’m pretty much at the end of my rope. I don’t have the money to afford a printer right now because I’m paying to go to an expensive university. I would hope that the money I’m giving is going towards a printer that will let me print out my paper without having to run between buildings trying to find a printer that will work for me.”
Will may be reached at [email protected]