Wi-Fi failure prevents Assessment Day


Photo Illustration by Alyssa Smith

Kylah Hollins showed up to her speech class Monday only to find out it had been canceled.

Hollins, a freshman education major, should have received an email from her professor about the cancellation, but the lack of campus Wi-Fi prevented her from getting the news.

“It also kept me from uploading an essay to Blackboard,” she said. “When it finally started to work, it was past the time it should have been submitted.”

Information Technology sent an advisory at 9 a.m. Monday stating that as of Friday morning, the department increased the university’s Internet capacity. The advisory stated when students returned to campus Sunday, the capacity was consumed.

“We need to get better Wi-Fi,” Hollins said. “They say they’re working more on it, but they must not be working on it enough.”

IT considered the possibility that the university’s network was under attack “either from outside the campus or from a hacked device on campus.” Such attacks are known as “denial of service attacks,” and IT Director Richard Toeniskoetter said they’ve been reported by other universities recently.

Because of the unreliability of the network, the university canceled Assessment Day.

According to the university website, Assessment Day results are used to qualify the university for accreditation. The results are also available to faculty members to adjust curriculum.

Katherine Draughon, executive director of the Office of Planning, Research and Assessment, said specific departments will reschedule their own assessment times, but there will be no formal reschedule for Assessment Day as a whole.

“Assessment Day takes about three months to put on,” she said. “It’s too late to cancel classes again. We have to wait until next semester.”

If the university were to start administering tests but the network fails, USI would be charged for the test but not receive the results.

“We’ll be missing a year of data,” Draughon said. “It’s unfortunate.”

IT sent an email at 3 p.m. Monday stating the network had been restored.

“Our staff engaged external consultants and we have determined this was a systems failure on our gateway to the Internet, and it has been rectified by the gateway system’s provider,” the email stated. “Because the gateway was malfunctioning, we investigated the possibility of an external attack and have determined this was not the situation we were experiencing.”

Even though the network was back to operating normally and data was secure, Assessment Day remained canceled.

“The firewall apparently just malfunctioned,” Toeniskoetter said. “When we called Cisco, there were no errors to pinpoint. If we see this behavior again, we’ll call them. We’re in good shape at this point.”