This morning we had a problem at W&M. We run a piece of software called Blackboard. It is used by professors to post assignments, have discussion boards, give online tests and many other class functions. It is very widely used. We started this semester automatically enrolling students in their Blackboard classes during active semesters. Well, according to our student system, the semester ended yesterday (by semester ending they mean classes being taught, and the School of Ed had their last classes yesterday).
So everyone got un-enrolled from their courses at 12:01 am this morning.
I got a call from a student at about 7:30am. She was a little panicky but very polite. I told her I would handle the issue and call her back as I made progress. I had the issue resolved by 8:15. Annoying, but not that big a deal.
As the morning progressed, we found in the Blackboard support email account about 5 reports of the problem. We let them know that the situation was fixed. I assumed that was all we would hear about the situation.
Then this got forwarded to me:
From: [name removed] To: <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, <email@example.com> Subject: Regarding Blackboard Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 01:42:12 -0500 X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook, Build 10.0.2627 Importance: Normal I address this message to those parties I feel might be most concerned. Students access to the blackboard information for classes, which we may have yet to complete, has been removed. I put it bluntly when I say that this is absurd. I cannot understand how such an issue would have been regarded with so little forethought. I do not suspect that I will suffer as a result of this, but I must deplore this action on behalf of those students who might. Please forgive any rudeness on my part, I am not one to generally express displeasure with such angry words, but a very dear friend of mine, already stressed to her limits after several consecutive exams, cried from sheer frustration when she found this to be the case, and I cannot bear to watch others suffer. At best, this was an innocent mistake, perhaps one of the many consequences of Isabel. I cannot help but think, though, that such a thing does not happen accidentally. Perhaps the more severe consequences of removal of access may not have been considered, in which case, I remain curious as to how such an issue could be ignored. However, if the consequences were considered and this was decided to be a rational course of action, then I am shocked. Though it may be too late, all steps to correct this should be taken. I must say, that be it by choice or by accident, I am disappointed in this esteemed institution. [name removed]
Now, let us examine who this dipshit sent the email to:
firstname.lastname@example.org - Patricia M Volp, Dean of Students
email@example.com - Samuel Sadler, Vice President for Student Affairs
firstname.lastname@example.org - Timothy J Sullivan, President
And before getting to me, it was forwarded through:
email@example.com - Karen R Cottrell, Associate Provost for Enrollment
firstname.lastname@example.org - Carolyn S Boggs, University Registrar
email@example.com - Geoff Feiss, Provost
Now, the person you may not notice in that list is the Associate Provost for Information technology. You would think he would be the person this irate student should have contacted, or maybe even the Technology Support Center to see about getting the problem actually fixed. But no.
Let’s not forget that the message was sent at 1:42am. I’m sure President Sullivan is sitting at his computer 24 hours a day to deal with things like this. And he uses Outlook. No comment. Probably a business major; or Political Science