Technical issues, due to complications involving a system upgrade, prevented many students from accessing their Portal and online bill payment resources over the Winter Break.
In December, Mills updated Oracle, a computerized framework for storing, organizing and reviewing data. According to Financial Aid Director David Gin, CASHNet, which allows for Portal payments and displays e-bills, had difficulty merging with the new system after the upgrade.
“CASHNet couldn’t ‘talk’ to the new system, as it was still searching for the old one,” Gin said.
This inability to “merge,” so to speak, created various intermittent problems for students trying to log into the Mills Portal and make payments. It also interfered with Blackboard access.
Senior Ashley Lavado described her experience as being, “aggravating more than anything.”
“Every time I attempted to log onto anything through the Mills Portal, it continued to say my user name or login password was incorrect,” Lavado said. “I even changed my password, thinking it must have been me that made the mistake.”
Although Lavado wasn’t worried about making payments online, she knew others who were, and her transition to the new semester was affected by being because she was unable to log in and check that she was up to date.
For those experiencing difficulties, Lavado’s story is a familiar one.
“I was logged on to the computer and clicked the button to pay and it gave me a message saying I wasn’t authorized to perform this action,” said sophomore Casey Honath. “I called the M Center and they said a lot of people had been experiencing this problem and it was a technical problem.”
Some students, however, had no trouble using the Portal.
“I haven’t been experiencing any issues with the Portal,” said sophomore Rose Lopez. “It was news to me that people were.”
Gin said that Mills made allowances for these delays by sending out an e-mail on January 10, explaining that the payment deadline had been extended until January 17. It stated that students would not receive late fees as they were not at fault for being unable to pay by January 9, the original payment deadline. On January 11, another e-mail communicated that the technical difficulties had been resolved.
Although the technical issues were an added burden and resulted in a heavier workload, Gin, speaking on behalf of the M Center staff, said he believes that by extending the deadline of the late payment fee, a creative solution was found offered that least impacted the students.
“We’re doing just as well as we were at this time last year,” Gin said. “We just want to make sure that students feel served.”