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Cyber Event Pt. II: The Students


Written by Devon Mitchell

The Roanoke College Cyber Event, which took place in mid-December and is ongoing, was a frustrating experience not only for students off-campus but also for members of the Roanoke community who were on campus when it took place. Senior Senn Boswell, on campus at the time of the outage, gave an inside look into what Roanoke was like trying to work and live without internet access. 

Boswell first learned about the outage when trying to access Self Service, the online application containing student’s personal information, and was unable to login. Luckily, Boswell had a friend on campus who informed him Roanoke had lost internet the previous weekend. When Boswell returned to school parts of the system had yet to be restored and there was no timeline for when that would happen.  

There was not much direct information being relayed to those on campus. However, Boswell found while working for the Residence Life and Housing Office that the school was transparent.

 “[The College] was pretty transparent about the restoration of the different college systems, and the anticipated side effects of the restorations,” said Boswell. 

For Boswell, work continued, despite the inconvenience of the outage. Students were still on campus over break, so Res Life still operated. Boswell had his work cut out for him as he had to help identify lost records from the outage. 

Communication for those on campus came through “IT liaisons,” or designated staff members elected to report back to their departments. The liaisons were briefed on any updates and then informed the rest of the staff in their departments so they could have a timeline for how long it would be until their needed systems were restored. 

Not only was work-life different for members of the Roanoke Community on campus in January, but their day-to-day life was also affected by the outage. 

“Once the internet was restored to Colket, I would go to the Colket Center in the evenings to catch up with friends over video chat, watch Netflix, and check emails,” said Boswell.

The biggest issue for Senn and so many other Roanoke College students was the decision to push back the semester. Changing plans and communicating about changed dates were both stressful and frustrating.  

“The other larger issue I had was less with the outage and more the consequences of it. Having to communicate changes in plans to family about commencement and prospective employers about anticipated start dates was a logistical nightmare,” said Boswell about the need to adjust long-term plans for the post-spring semester. 

Despite nearly all systems being up and running, students are still struggling to adjust their summer plans for internships, summer employment, or intensive learning classes. Like senior Senn Boswell, Roanoke students are still navigating the tricky effects of the outage, without completely knowing what happened. Hopefully, in the coming months, more light will be shed on the perspectives and stories of members of the Roanoke College community.