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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/22/2004

Serving us better

By Executive Editors
Executive Editor

Friday, October 22, 2004

The leaves are changing colors, students are studying for mid-terms and the servers are down. Again.

Crashing servers have become a regular part of life at St. Olaf; weve grown to expect these technical failures. Its not that different from standing in line for 45 minutes to register for classes or squinting at fuzzy television screens to watch one of the four channels that barely come through. Although these traditions might add a bit of charm to life on the Hill, we believe its gone too far  our technology is simply outdated.

This week, we experienced a particularly devastating server crash: After the servers went down Monday afternoon, the student body received an e-mail explaining that all work saved after Monday at 1 a.m. had been lost, but that Institutional and Instructional Technologies (IIT) was working overtime to remedy the situation. Three e-mails and three days later, students and faculty could not access or save anything to any of the drives. Public printing had been restored, which was of little use when term papers were still floating in cyberspace.

This critical system failure could not have occurred at a worse time. While we do not doubt that IIT was doing everything in its power to solve the problem, we would like to point out that this is not an isolated incident. Since their inception, the servers, fondly known Brit and Sven, have flitted in and out of our lives all too frequently; not a semester has passed without frustrating computer-related difficulties. Most of us remember having to access our e-mail at a different website for weeks in the 2002-2003 school year and Sven and Brit regularly crashing last year.

Weve come to rely on IIT and have grown dependent on the technology they provide for us. Students save their papers to Student Home and teachers put assignments on Classes because it is easy and convenient. This year alone, IIT added Moodle, increased the public printer usage to 550 pages per student, brought new flat-screen PCs to the Computing Den and updated the operating systems of computers all over campus. We depend on these technological advancements because we trust the people behind that window in the basement of the Library, the people on the other end of x3830 who comfort us when our computers mysteriously turn off and refuse to start again.

Because we can trust these people to do a good job, we think it is time to show them that we appreciate their hard work. As we strive toward the commitment to lifelong learning, we feel that the College should improve our on-campus technology. While we acknowledge the current fiscal situation, we believe this decision will benefit every student and every professor. Until we make changes, these networking problems will continue to resurface. We dont expect unlimited wireless Internet, we just want to save and print our papers. Thanks for the 550 free pages, IIT, but until the servers are fixed, they wont be too helpful.

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