April 1, 2011

Site to nab classes given the OK

The use of automated scripts during winter quarter’s add/drop period has drawn a warning from Dean of Students Susan Art and prompted students to question, a recent start-up and Uncommon Fund recipient which offers e-mail notifications for vacant seats in a desired class.

The issues first arose last December when University students began using automated scripts and overwhelmed the University’s servers during finals week, according to University Registrar Gabriel Olszewski.

Art wrote in an e-mail to University undergraduates that “any use which interferes with core use by others, including a script to gain an advantage in the course registration process, is unacceptable and is a violation of the University’s Eligibility and Acceptable Use Policy for Information Technology.”

However, Olszewski contends that the use of automated scripts has not adversely affected the course selection process. “I do not believe it is having a significant effect on student enrollment or student choice in courses. However, it has been negatively affecting the systems used to enroll,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Olszewski confirmed that ScheduleSpy and programs that provide email notifications were not the impetus for the email and would not affect the University’s servers.

Still, ScheduleSpy co-creators and second-years Paul Kaplan and Sean Clemmer met with Art to discuss the website the day before the announcement was sent out to the student body.

Kaplan believes that the e-mail did discourage use of the website. "I got about ten personal emails from people that were really worried that we were going to get in a lot of trouble,” Kaplan said, though he remains positive about the future of ScheduleSpy.

According to Kaplan, the site boasts a 79-percent success rate, with 560 uses, and 440 successful class entries. The time to secure a class spot averaged about four days.

The site will remain in operation for at least two years, thanks to a grant from the Uncommon Fund, according to Kaplan. The site’s co-creators still plan to form a web development RSO next fall, and are in talks with Student Government (SG) to begin creating similar apps for SG use.