Letter to the Editor
By Tim Cary, Assistant Systems Administrator
I work for the Systems and Networking department of IT, and we are classified as essential personnel, and therefore required to report to work even if the College closes. As noted in the article, Five College students must make the dangerous drive or walk here, but we do, too. In fact, one of us within the department made it all the way up to the parking lot safely, but got stuck in the parking lot because it was not plowed!

Our department manages the back-end servers and related services, and we are not part of the help desk, so we don’t get the first phone call when there is a problem seen by a user. I was in the office (as were other members of our department) the entire day of the snow storm, and actually dealt with this particular issue. There are two things I want to make clear: first, we did not know about the problem right away; and second, the entire e-mail system was not down.

At 9:42 a.m., our department received a phone call about the problem, and we started to work on the issue. At 10:21 a.m., the problem was resolved.

The statement “Amherst e-mail was not available” is not a fair statement. The problem, that we found and resolved, affected approximately 90 student mailboxes. That is a very small number compared to the over 5,000 mailboxes we provide.

I believe we resolved the problem in a very timely manner.

I understand how important e-mail communication is, especially on a day with a huge snowstorm. However, I also feel it is important that the Amherst community knows how hard we work to prevent these issues and that we were indeed on campus and resolved the issue in a very timely fashion. This particular issue was unique in that it went undetected by us, despite the extensive set of early notification systems we have. Most importantly, I would like to ensure that the community understands that this was not a complete e-mail outage, and was limited to a small set of students. Staff, faculty and the majority of students never lost access to e-mail.

Issue 16, Submitted 2011-02-23 00:29:59