NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Service Desk Battles Account Issues

On Sept. 27, students noticed difficulties getting on to myNECC, their student email accounts and Blackboard. Around 1:30 p.m. the following day, the NECC alert messages started popping up on students’ phones.

Mikaela Angers, fourth-year Dance major, was in Jitters Cafe on Monday when she realized she wasn’t getting into her portal or connected to Wi-Fi.

“For whatever reason I was kicked off the school Wi-Fi,” she said. “When I tried to log back in, I was told my password was incorrect, and then found out that my passwords for myNECC have now changed as well. . . I can’t log into anything.”

The service desk fielded an influx of complaints.

Students took to Facebook to voice their concerns and find answers. Shianne McGilvray, fourth-year Psychology major, posted, “My entire email box for school just vanished.”

While on campus, working at the bookstore, she noticed she couldn’t get onto the Wi-Fi. McGilvray said she uses her NECC email for everything related to NECC: financial aid letters, scholarship emails and her rentals. All that is now gone.

On Monday, news of a “service issue” in the process of being fixed prompted 7,800 students to be deleted from the system.

On Tuesday, IT worker Bobby Erskine estimated that all the students would be entered back into the system by that Sunday.

Not all students were affected and each student seemed to be at a different stage of access with each passing hour. Ally Catanzaro, second-year Psychology major, regained access to her Blackboard account Tuesday evening. She posted on Facebook about how elated she was to be able to submit her homework.

Jeff Bickford, chief information officer of  Information Technology Services sent out an email to students, staff and faculty Tuesday morning. The email said, “ITS has corrected the problem that occurred yesterday at 10 a.m. with about 7,800 student accounts. Approximately 2,000 accounts have been restored through the night and ITS staff are steadily working through the remaining accounts today.  ITS staff will continue working around the clock in order to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”

With so many students having difficulties, that email didn’t reach the broader, affected audience.

Professor Amy Callahan said on Wednesday, “It’s horrible, because it’s interfering with how the courses are running … It’s a domino effect.”

Callahan had assigned homework to be discussed on Wednesday, and the server issues left her students in the dark.

Right after 8 p.m. on Sunday, Bickford sent out a second campus-wide email detailing the events that occurred day by day. According to his email, it was at 10 a.m. on Monday morning that an “error occurred causing 7,800 student accounts to be deleted.”

At 2 p.m., the restoration process began.

“ITS staff from all departments volunteered to work around the clock to process all 7,800 accounts,” said Bickford in the email.

By Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the restoration was complete. 424 student accounts were deemed not recoverable at Microsoft; these students lost all their emails and all other content saved to Office 365. Their Blackboard accounts and Banner were left unaffected. An email was sent to faculty and staff providing the names of the 424 students whose Microsoft content was lost.

Any students still experiencing difficulty are reminded that restored accounts have had their passwords reset. Students are asked to use their birthdate (in the format MMDDYY), then go to “student password manager” and set their passwords to one of their choosing.

Any other IT related issues should be called into the Service Desk at 978-556-3111.

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