Internet crash complicates rush weekend

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With a new Internet-based software, the Interfraternity Council rolled through the first two rounds of rush with no organizational problems. But that all ended nine minutes before the preference round list submissions were due.

At 9:26 p.m., fraternities working on their lists online through the Interactive Collegiate Solutions website were locked out of the system as DePauw’s Internet access shut down.

Eric Wolfe ‘04, a greek life coordinator, said three chapters had yet to finish submitting their lists when everyone was kicked out of the system. At that point, the greek life coordinators and IFC had to call the Interactive Collegiate Solutions technical support in Texas to submit the remaining fraternities list via phone.

Still, the group had no way to receive the new member lists for each fraternity after the software processed the prospectives’ lists with the chapter lists. Because DePauw’s facsmile system runs through the Internet, Wolfe had the lists sent to another office he has in town. He picked up the faxes and returned to the Julian Science and Mathematics Center where fraternity representatives waited to fill out their bid cards.  

By 10:45 p.m., the rho gammas guiding the prospective new members through rush distributed bid cards to the students waiting in separate rooms in Julian.

Junior Mitch Turnbow, IFC’s new president and former vice president of recruitment, said they had originally intended to get the bid cards out at 10:30 p.m., but planned to be able to move the time up closer to 9:30 p.m.

Because of the Internet issues, the bid cards were delayed over an hour from the anticipated time.

The Internet crash that affected the entire campus lasted from around 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., said Carol Smith, the university’s chief information officer. Smith said the crash was a result of a piece of equipment failing in the server room located on the first floor of the Julian Science and Mathematics Center. The hardware supplied by the university’s Internet provider I-Light had malfunctioned and required an I-Light technician to fix the issue.  

Because I-Light supplies Internet for the majority of higher education institutions throughout the state and DePauw is a central node in their system, effects of the malfunction reached all the way to Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Smith said.  

On campus, DePauw websites and servers were still accessible, but any outside systems could not be accessed and outside Internet users were unable to access DePauw systems as well.   

Smith said Information Services only learned of the problem after someone called Public Safety about the Internet failing and the word being passed on from there. She said that the best way to help address Internet issues is to call the Help Desk Status Hotline at 765-658-6666 to report any problems.  

“Typically a Saturday night wouldn’t be that traumatic; not that many people would be on the system,” Smith said. “But it was really bad timing unfortunately because of all the activity going on with the greek activities that evening.”  

The technological setback left fraternity chapters anxiously waiting for their new members. Junior Tyler Giesting, Sigma Chi recruitment chair at the time, said his chapter was one of the fraternity’s that was locked out of the Internet system before finishing their list. He then headed to Julian to help finish the list and sort out the dilemma.  

“We just kind of had to sit tight,” Giesting said. “We sat in there for probably, it felt like an hour and a half. It was frustrating, but I think Eric Wolfe and the greek life staff did the best that they could with what they had. And they ended up with a solution sooner than I thought they actually would.”

The faxed lists were grainy and hard to read with a tiny font, Giesting said, but everything went smoothly considering the Internet problems. He said he hopes a better backup plan will be in place for the future.  

“I don’t know how they did this in the 80s when there wasn’t the Internet,” Giesting said. “But it couldn’t have been as complex as we made it. Hopefully we can learn from this.”

Wolfe said the greek life coordinators will discuss contingency plans with IFC for the future, but without creating a software of its own on a local computer, the Internet system might be the most effective way. In the past, a local software has been used, but Turnbow said the system crashed from too much data being processed though it.  

Wolfe said the only other way to do it would be to match the lists by hand as a backup. Though he hasn’t directly been involved with a hand-matching system, he was told by someone familiar to the system that it would take five to seven hours to complete preference round lists. Using that system as a backup would delay the process considerably.

Turnbow said there was more concern expressed from fraternity members than complaints, which made the delay less stressful. But knowing the fraternity’s were anxiously waiting was a concern.

“There were a couple points where I had a little bit of panic in the back of my mind, but we had a good group of people on IFC and the GLCs helping us out so it went pretty well,” Turnbow said.