On Tuesday, April 27, Brandeis’ campus systems went offline from approximately 9 to 10:30 a.m., disabling WiFi on campus and blocking access to Brandeis-hosted services, such as Gmail and LATTE. Among other interruptions, this prompted the Department of Community Living to postpone junior/senior housing selection until the following day. 

This is not the first time campus systems have failed this semester — a similar range of services went offline on April 14 for approximately half an hour. Shortly thereafter, on April 17, due to “partial flooding of a Brandeis electrical substation,” the campus suffered a partial power outage that lasted almost four hours. In both of these instances, the appropriate campus departments sent mass email communications to provide updates to the community — Chief Information Officer Jim La Creta in the former case, and Vice President for Campus Planning and Operations Lois Stanley in the latter. 

While unexpected service outages will always be frustrating, communication from the University during and following outages has come to be a standard practice. Students appreciate being kept informed during a service interruption and an explanation to its cause following resumption of normal operation. However, no communication was sent to students following the April 27 outage, with the only official communication from the University being an error alert displayed on the login page during the outage. This board asks that the appropriate University personnel continue to communicate with the Brandeis community when problems arise.  

This board also expresses its frustration with the frequency of these outages and asks for an explanation as to their causes. While we understand that things are bound to go awry occasionally, an institution of Brandeis’ caliber should not be dealing with such frequent service interruptions. This is particularly true over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, after much time and resources have been devoted to building an online infrastructure. 

Of particular cause for concern and frustration is the approaching finals period — students will be expected to take final exams live on Zoom, upload final projects to LATTE and rely on online campus services more than ever. It is crucial that outages be avoided at all costs and mitigated as quickly as possible should they arise. This board also calls on professors to be understanding in the case that students experience technical difficulties — finals period is a stressful enough time without the added worry that our Zoom connections will fail mid-exam or presentation. 

While we all look longingly ahead to a return to some kind of normalcy in the fall semester, online learning remains our reality, for now. We ask for solidarity and for every effort to be made to ensure a smooth end to this particularly challenging semester.