Locke’s Loft dining hall was afflicted by problems this past week, after the main entrance to the dining hall was blocked off from use and students were unable to swipe their ID’s to enter the facility.
Several of the stairs from the third to fourth floor of Thomas Hall, leading to the main entrance of the dining hall, collapsed on Tuesday, Jan. 31, forcing students to find other means of getting into the facility for the following three days.
Freshman Roland Schultheiss said that the collapse affected his usual schedule for eating at Locke’s, which he usually frequents 3-6 times a day.
“It threw me off guard; I wasn’t able to properly walk in as per usual. I had to find alternate routes,” said Schultheiss.
Students were forced to enter the dining hall from the bridge leading into the 5th floor of Thomas Hall, or through the side entrance leading to the 4th floor near the coffee station.
Another option was to take the elevator in order to avoid the cordoned-off stairwell.
The elevator was the subject of criticism for many students, who could be seen crowding around the doors waiting to go up one level, often piling in around a dozen students at a time.
“I took it once and I didn’t like it… It was packed with people and it’s too slow,” said Schultheiss, whose preferred means of entry was through the 5th floor entrance.
Additionally, students also began experiencing problems using their ID’s to scan into Locke’s Loft.
Brian Weinstein, resident district manager for Gourmet Dining, said that the internet system for all of the Point of Sale (POS) registers went down in the dining hall, as well as other registers across campus Tuesday.
Students had to sign into Locke’s using their ID card numbers as an interim form of swiping in while the system was down.
Campus card project coordinator Charles Lippolis stated that the system outage began around 12:20 p.m. and lasted until 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday.
“The Point of Sale dining registers went into offline mode. These registers are part of the Heartland system. Offline mode occurs when the individual register is not able to communicate with the main server,” said Lippolis via email.
“In Offline mode, ID cards are still swiped and the data is recorded in the local register. Then when the register goes back online, the offline data is automatically downloaded to the server,” said Lippolis. “The registers will normally stay in offline mode for approximately 3 hours. In this case, the resolution took over 3 hours, and at that point, the registers totally shut down. The only option then is paper logging.”
Lippolis recalled a similar incident occurring back in 2013. Weinstein also added that he had not seen this problem take place since he arrived at the college.
Robert Moran of Information Technology Services confirmed in an email statement that “Very few services were affected,” namely the Onecard/Heartland system, in place since 2009, along with “a small handful of office shared drives.”
“We’re still monitoring logs and digging to make sure this was a random fluke crash (which can happen) and not indicative of a hardware problem,” said Moran. “Onecard is being transitioned to the new hardware in the next two weeks and I expect that the large amount of time we put into doing this will pay off by making outages less frequent, and maintenance easier.”
“The outage made everyone’s day a tough one. From staff in ITS who were just trying to fix a problem as fast as possible, to our food service workers who had to bear the brunt of a lot of frustrated people and finally a very large number of students who were just trying to get a bite to eat,” said Moran. “Thankfully this is a relatively rare occurrence but as with all of our critical services we are always planning on ways to make things more reliable.”
The stairs leading to Locke’s were repaired and open to student use by Friday. The cause of the system outage remains under investigation.