Timothy Arnold, a student at the University of Central Florida (UCF), developed a service called “U Could Finish” on Friday, June 8. The service automated the process of hunting for open seats in popular courses of the university. But just six days after his service went online, UCF administrators blocked Arnold’s website from accessing the university’s course scheduling data alleging that it had violated university policy and overloaded their servers. And the university authority decided to punish Arnold as well.
The idea behind the service was to reduce the hassle of find open seats in high-demand courses in UCF. Students enrolling in courses for the next semester can select their classes online at UCF. But if they wait too long after enrollment opens, there might be no vacancy for that subject. So many students constantly re-check the university website for last-minute openings.
Timothy Arnold, a student at the UCF, wanted to make the process of finding open seats in courses easy. He developed a service that automatically checks UCF’s enrollment website frequently to search for classes on students’ behalf. If a previously-closed course had an opening, Arnold’s website would send them a text message on their phone.
But six days after the service went online, the university administrators blocked Arnold’s website from accessing the university’s course scheduling data. The university administrators brought accusations against Arnold saying that he had misused the school’s computing and telecommunications resources. In fact, they found Arnold in violation of university policies for interfering with the computer network. The university officials specifically mentioned that Arnold’s service U Could Finish was tying up the campus computer network, and accessed UCF’s scheduling website 220,000 times and checked the university’s course scheduling data at every 60 second.
A UCF spokesman said, “While the intent of helping students register for classes is positive, the website placed an unmanageable load on UCF’s system.”
But Arnold said, “I’m not accessing anything illegitimately. It’s a public guest search that’s available to anyone, anyone in the world, student or not. I’m more than skeptical. I’m pretty positive it had no effect whatsoever on their systems.”
Arnold had been commissioned on disciplinary probation. Arnold has to face three semesters of academic probation, a paper in which he has to discuss the importance of complying with university policies and write a 5-8 page paper on how it went. Besides, he has to write another 6 page paper describing how he would change UCF’s class scheduling computer system.
However, Arnold has the support of UCF Student Body President Cortez Whately. According to Whatley a service like the one Arnold developed is needed because so many students have a hard time getting into the classes they need to graduate. He said, “I think the punishment, at least the probation, was harsh because he has to give up his leadership positions. But, I am very much behind him and what he did. It’s brilliant.”
Now, Arnold plans to appeal his punishment. If you are interested to see a news video about U Could Finish you can head over to Click Orlando.
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