The registration system at the College of William and Mary has never been perfect, but last week’s class selection cycle left students more frustrated than ever.
In the midst of freshman registration this year, Banner abruptly shut down. When the class of 2015 logged onto Banner at 3:30 p.m. to register, many students were shut out of the system.
According to Deputy Chief Information Officer Bernadette Kenney, the system crashed due to systematic errors involving the correspondence between MyWM and Banner Self Service. This year a set of annual updates were added to the Banner server by a third party company, but Kenney suspects that these updates had nothing to do with the server crash.
“There was so much demand this year with freshman registration that something caused Banner to freeze and back up,” Kenney said. “We believed we were prepared for the overwhelming number of students registering, but there are many pieces of technology at play, and something happened at that time that we had never seen before.”
Information Technology sent out an email to the campus community at 3:57 p.m. explaining the shutdown.
At 5:34 p.m., IT sent out another email saying Banner services had been restored.
University Registrar Sara Marchello sent an email to the freshman class apologizing for the frustrations the Banner outage caused. Marchello also extended the freshmen registration period an hour and a half and gave the class tips for a successful registration.
“Most students think that if you don’t get your perfect schedule in the first five minutes of registration that it’s an absolute catastrophe, but really, it’s a two month process and so there is still lots of time,” Marchello said.
Marchello and Kenney plan to work together to create a smoother, more successful registration system.
“We know that this is a highly anxious time for students and we want to be able to protect the registration service. That’s what we’re here for,” Kenney said.
Despite administrators’ efforts to fix the system and mollify students, many remain upset.
“I got locked out from 3:30 until 5:15 without getting into any classes,” Mary Walsh ’15 said. “I eventually got some, but definitely missed out on a few I was planning on taking. I heard my hallmates counting down until 3:30, then there was a minute of silence, then just screams of ‘What the hell!’ from down the hall.”
Registration frustration is not a new phenomenon, and some students have used creative outlets to express their exasperation. Last spring Charlie Clark ’14 and Sean Sweeney ’14 created a YouTube video voice-over of a scene from the film “Downfall,” entitled, “Hitler Registering for Classes at William and Mary.” The video portrays Hitler screaming about the difficulty of getting into Adventure Games, and his being enrolled in classes he does not wish to take. The video has received more than 7,800 views.
“It’s a problem that all students identify with at William and Mary,” Sweeney said. “Creating the video was a fun way for us to poke fun at an obvious problem. Everyone has gotten the short end of the stick at one point or another, so hopefully the video adds some comic relief to the situation.”