One hour before the stroke of midnight on Oct. 24, I had a perfectly orchestrated plan in place. I would log on to OWLnet early and stay active on the Web site in order to ensure my connection. This time, I was sure to succeed in gaining my desired schedule. Unsurprisingly, my brilliant plan failed when my session timed out three minutes before I was eligible to register for classes. Ignoring a throbbing headache, I persisted to log on.
By 2:30 a.m., I had become a zombie hunched over a computer screen at Tuttleman Learning Center. Not alone in my predicament, I could hear the increasing frustration resonating across the lab. Resigning meant possibly sacrificing necessary classes. Facing the loom of a morning exam ahead, I had a decision to make.
When a student has to run the risk of compromising their academic performance just to complete a task such as registering, there is obviously a problem. The registration process at Temple is a nightmare. Absurdly scheduled alongside midterms, the network’s lack of efficiency accounts for added stress and aggravation among students.
OWLnet, the sole medium that students can register, frequently becomes overwhelmed during registration weeks. Due to the massive amount of Web hits it receives, either the servers are constantly too busy or the system crashes altogether. Students are often left in the lurch without the classes they need.
Although Computer Services claims to have upgraded OWLnet over the summer, it is clear that not enough is being done to prevent such an inconvenience.
Hamid Alvand is a computer information systems specialist for Electronic Data Systems, the company that manages the server for the United States Postal Service’s Web site. According to him, a more effective system is possible.
“The server that is supporting this Web site does not have enough resources to support the network,” Alvand said. “It is not configured to accommodate the number of Web hits within that period of time.”
Alvand claimed that the system can be improved by boosting the server’s power. Ways to do this include increasing memory and the number of central processing units. So why weren’t these techniques implemented? Because, unlike upgrading, maintaining an inefficient server system “is cost-effective,” Alvand said.
But all the 33,000-plus students who attend Temple pay a $100 computer and technology fee every semester.
“That kind of money is big money,” Alvand said. “It’s definitely enough to provide a good network with much more robust systems so it will accommodate a lot more people.”
Sophomore education major Angela Park is one of the many students who are unsatisfied with OWLnet’s service. Park noted extreme difficulties in using the Web site to register. “It was out of control,” she said. “You can’t get what you want, so you’re going to have to resort to other things like night or summer classes. And that’s just annoying.” Maintaining a network for such a large population of students is a difficult task. However, other universities with electronic registration systems do not seem to exhibit the same problem.
Sreya Alladi, a sophomore political science major at Rutgers-New Brunswick, has no trouble registering for classes. “I’m satisfied with the Rutgers registration process because it’s quick and has little downtime,” she said. Rutgers serves more than 50,000 students across several campuses.
Park, who used the DiamondLine to register last semester, expressed a desire to see other registration methods adopted.
“I think they should give us other options like the phone service that they took away,” she said. “That’s not fair that we’re giving them so much money and we’re losing out in the process.”
Students are customers and should receive the quality service they pay for. If there is a problem that could affect students’ academic performance, it needs to be resolved immediately, regardless of how expensive the solution is. Temple administration needs to wake up and get its act together.
Venuri Siriwardane can be reached at email@example.com.