Weekend glitch stymies Dining computer system

Due to complications with the Dining Services computer system this weekend, many students were unable to swipe in for meals for most of Sunday as well as Monday morning. The issue was resolved on Monday at 9:18 a.m., but it still remains unclear what caused the malfunction.

The College’s meal system operates on a weekly schedule; usually on Sundays at 4:01 a.m., a student’s unused meals from the previous week are deleted from the system and replaced by the next week’s full number of meals. That number is determined by the student’s current meal plan.

However, there was an interruption in service on Sunday morning, according to Sharon Marceau, assistant to the director of Dining Services, meaning the normal meal replacement process never occurred.

“It was a hiccup in service,” Marceau said. “We’re not totally certain why it did not run.”

Students who had unused meals from the previous week were unaffected by the interruption, but those who had used all their meals were surprised to find that they still had no meals remaining on Sunday. Additionally, because the issue took place on a weekend, no one was working in Droppers House to contact for help.

“Because the administrative staff weren’t in, we weren’t able to detect the problem,” Marceau said. “It was an easy fix to go in and reset the system, but there was no one around to do that until Monday morning.”

Dining Services staff members working in the dining halls were not sure how to handle the problem, so they asked affected students to fill out chits documenting each “extra” meal.

While it turned out that the computers could have updated students’ files themselves after the system was reset, according to Marceau, routine service was largely unaffected.

“The issues with the meal plans took everybody a bit by surprise, but they were handled really well by staff and students,” said Erwin Bernhart, Dining Services’ associate manager at Paresky. “Checkers were good in explaining what happened and that it would all be resolved on Monday. It really did not have an impact on the lines, which flowed as normal.”

Dining Services uses a software program from a company called Seaboard in New York. Seaboard also works with PeopleSoft, which was down for part of this weekend due to a routine upgrade. “[Dining Services’ software and PeopleSoft] do communicate,” Marceau said, but it is unclear if there was a connection between the upgrade and Dining Services’ computer malfunction.