Inside Higher Ed, No Email, No Wi-Fi, No Learning Management System:
Amherst College experienced a catastrophic technical mishap last week that left the campus without access to online services — for five days.
As IT staff scrambled to fix the problem, faculty and students suddenly found themselves without access to Wi-Fi, email, Moodle, accounting systems, card-scanning systems or any content hosted on the Amherst.edu website.
That a scenario totally inconceivable on most modern campuses occurred at the wealthy private, liberal arts college in Amherst, Mass., was doubly surprising.
"How could this happen?" became a common refrain on campus. How could an elite college with a $2.2 billion endowment and that charges more than $50,000 in tuition a year fail to provide basic services, such as internet access?
With Wi-Fi services down, some students used their cellphone data to tweet their disbelief.
David Hamilton, chief information officer at Amherst, said “everything” the college does online was affected. Information technology staff worked round the clock to repair the network, he said. ... Aging network infrastructure, hardware failures and wiring issues were the culprits, he said. The network was designed about 20 years ago and had its last hardware upgrade a decade ago. Plans were already in place to replace the network, which can be a costly undertaking, but “we got caught before we had that solution in place,” said Hamilton. ...
Shawna Chen, a junior majoring in English at Amherst and editor in chief of The Amherst Student, said ... "It wasn’t just the Wi-Fi. Our dorm [security] system defaulted to unlocked. Our laundry cards didn’t work. We couldn’t access Moodle. The entire website was down. Handshake, our career services platform, was down. Printing was down."