Campus-wide online outage

Instructors at Missouri Southern are currently without e-mail services.

Since Tuesday, faculty and staff e-mail has suffered the repercussions of a power outage that has spread over campus.

“Hopefully we’ve lost nothing,” said Bob Walker, assistant vice president of information technology services. “But we know we may have a handful lost; mostly spam.”

This problem has disrupted class work and communication between faculty and students.

The staff of the computer center was in the midst of re-indexing more than 2.4 million files, with approximately 1,000 files open when the outage occurred.

With the system vulnerable during the outage, the possible question of file, appointment and attachment loss has been raised. However, Banner, Luminis and registration information has been preserved.

The time of recovery is currently tentative. However, Walker said his team would be here through the weekend.

“We’re hopeful to have it back up by Monday,” he said.

In the meantime, the faculty and staff are improvising.

“There was life before e-mail,” said Sharon Odem, secretary to the University president Julio León. “(E-mail) is an asset to us, we’ll just have to be creative in communicating in other ways.”

For now, the campus is corresponding via telephone and fax. Dr. Jerry Williams, director of lifelong learning, said his department is facing issues. Online folders cannot be accessed and instructors aren’t sure who’s trying to contact them. However, Williams said it’s nothing they can’t handle.

“It’s nothing life-threatening,” he said. “Compared to what Virginia (Tech) faced, this is a small problem.”

Another faculty member, Dr. John Tiede, director of major gifts and planned giving, said Blackboard has not been affected.

“It’s not as bad for me,” he said. “My students can still communicate. We’re working around it.”

Echo Hartman, junior nursing major who works in public information, said the impact is noticeable.

“It really affects our office, people e-mail us and we need it,” she said.

On the other hand, Rod Surber, director of public information, said using fax, telephone or even walking across campus isn’t a bad thing.

“I would say if this is the worst thing that happens to us, we’re in good shape,” he said.

Since the power outage, Walker and the computer center staff of 24 people, have worked long shifts to solve the e-mail issue. The team was in the middle of restoring the 2.4 million files when it crashed again.

“It’s going to take time to restore it, to make sure it’s accurate,” Walker said. “It’s a balancing act to restore what’s there and catch what’s incoming into the system.”

There have been six major power outages in the past two years for Missouri Southern. Each time this occurs, Walker and the computer center staff run through several routines to salvage information. This past week, members of the staff worked one 24-hour shift and a 32-hour shift.

“They’re definitely devoted,” Walker said.

There are 2.4 million files on the 6,000 student accounts, and there are 780 faculty/staff accounts. The team was in the middle of restoring the 2.4 million files when it crashed again.

There are two servers for the files, which explains why some students are still able to access their accounts. Walker said the need has been recognized for a full-time position for these situations. With the University president’s approval, the new position will be available May 1.

“That position will have never existed in Missouri Southern history,” Walker said.

With the team currently working on the system, students found hardships with class work.

“I just couldn’t get on,” said Ryan Carter, junior accounting major. “I can’t e-mail any of my teachers. I don’t have a printer at home and I do my work there I e-mail it to myself. So I couldn’t turn in my homework today. I think my teachers will understand, but we’ll find out soon enough.”

One student was in the Java Coffee Shop when she discovered the e-mail was down.

“I tried for 10 minutes and it never let me on-it wasn’t good,” said Kaitlin Tinney, freshman pre-med major. “There’s always problems with it.”

For the staff at the Spiva Library, Melissa Forsythe, circulations manager, said the e-mail system down puts a hinder in the workplace, especially for students wanting to see their book due dates and ordering books from other schools.

“That’s a big part of our day,” she said. “Nobody’s upset, these things happen, it’s just a downer for now.”

April Hill, sophomore environmental health major, said the down system isn’t a new problem.

“It seems it’s down a lot. It’s irritating, but I’ll get over it,” Hill said.