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Registration site fails for second day

Belmont registration sites crashed for the second day in a row Wednesday morning, slowing down the registration process for hundreds of students and frustrating the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, which said it had prepared for registration months in advance.

The crash, which lasted 22 minutes was no fault of Belmont. The problem is believed to have stemmed from a coding error within the  servers of the company that provides the service to the university.

“I just received a call from the president of Ellucian. He has their entire team of engineers, he has Oracle engineers and he also has Amazon Web Services, which is our cloud service provider, working on this right now,” said Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness Paula Gill. “At this point, they are not guaranteeing this, but are fairly certain there’s an error in the code.”

At 7 a.m., registration opened and 402 students registered. At 7:10 a.m., with only 761 students registered, the system, which consists of 36 central processing units, was already at capacity, Gill said.

This, after months of site load-testing, was unexpected, Gill said.

“We are currently in an environment that has 36 CPUs, which Ellucian had told us is sized for a school of 50,000 students,” Gill said.

Those CPUs should handle 5,000-6,000 students at any given time. Instead, they faltered at just below 1,000 students.

A graph of traffic to the 36 Belmont CPUs. The CPUs, which have the capacity to handle 5,000-6,000 students at any given time, failed with under 1,000 students on the site.

A graph of traffic to the 36 Belmont CPUs, which have the capacity to handle 5,000-6,000 students at any given time. The CPUs failed with under 1,000 students on the site.

Gill said her office, along with the help of 30 support technicians, is working hard to find the root of the problem and to fix it.

“I agree we have had problems with registration and unsuccessful registrations in the past,” Gill said. “But I believe this is the first time Ellucian has put all of their resources together and been online with us beginning at 6:45 a.m. to see the failures as they happen in the database.”

Ellucian apologized for the site failures and said it was working to resolve the issues, in a statement sent to the Belmont Office of Communications from Senior Vice President of Ellucian Jeff Ralyea.

“As your technology partner, there is nothing Ellucian takes more seriously than our responsibility to help keep students on the path to success. We know that many of Belmont students experienced issues as you tried to register for the University’s fall semester using Ellucian’s Banner student information system,” Ralyea wrote. “Please accept our sincere apology for the resulting challenges and frustration you’ve faced.”

Wednesday morning’s site crash, though significantly shorter, was met with similar frustrations from students, some of whom emailed President Robert Fisher an identical email coordinated by students.

“I understand your desire to increase Belmont’s enrollment, but Belmont apparently cannot support the students already enrolled,” the email read. “I believe I speak for most when I say that the loss of all functionality of registration systems for any period of time every time the systems are put through standard use is ridiculous.”

Fisher responded to those students shortly after in a private email, saying that the university and Ellucian have a team investigating the problem and are working to find a solution.

However, some students reacted negatively to Fisher’s response, and conveyed they felt it was incomplete and abrasive.

Screenshots of Fisher’s email began circulating around social media shortly after.

The students sent the same email to Provost Dr. Thomas Burns, who responded shortly after as well.

“What I can do is tell you that I have heard you, and your fellow students, that I share your concern and frustration, and that I will do everything that I can to make sure that this is the last time the registration system will not work,” Burns wrote.

“I expect you to hold me to that last statement.”

This article will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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