EDITORIAL: Administrators must answer for botched launch of website
On the first day of the Spring 2022 semester, students were greeted by a few too many squirrels for January.
Instead of climbing trees around campus, they appeared on error messages on the newly redesigned cmich.edu website. After about the sixth or seventh image of a gasping squirrel, it was clear something really was nuts.
We released a website that didn't work.
Reports of missing content, broken links and crashes flooded social media. All the marketing information showed up fine - but things like event calendars, applications and other pages students check daily were nowhere to be found.
At the Jan. 18 Academic Senate meeting, faculty expressed shock and disappointment toward the website's condition.
“In a time of dwindling enrollment, this is a slip-up we cannot afford,” Senator John Allen said at the Jan. 18 meeting. “It is a woefully underprepared website and I think the students have recognized this.”
He’s right, we did. It wasn't difficult to notice.
The question is: Why go live with a website that isn't 100 percent complete and functional? Did we get our money’s worth for the $4.5 million we budgeted for this project?
It was no surprise that problems with the website took up much of the conversation at the Academic Senate meeting. What was surprising was the tone of the response given to faculty by Vice President for Marketing and Communication John Veilleux.
After multiple faculty members stated concerns with the website – including one who reported missing information for incoming graduate students – many faculty members have said Veilleux's comments were dismissive of the criticism and bordered on derision.
He said faculty were supposed to communicate with their “department collaborators” to transfer content to the new website. He compared it to students turning in their homework late.
It was a bizarre comparison.
The Academic Senate meeting should’ve been administration reassuring faculty and providing solutions – at the very least connecting them to the right people. Instead, it was pointing fingers.
We're three weeks into the semester.
While things have certainly improved since the first day of classes, there are still glaring issues.
Issues like these need to be fixed – immediately.
No more pointing fingers. No more blame games.
A line of communication must be established to fix the remaining website issues as soon as possible.
University Communications has already taken a step in the right direction by sending out an email to campus Jan. 24 with instructions for reporting functionality issues.
According to the email, CMU students, faculty and staff can report issues to the OIT Helpdesk through an online form. The email also included a list of the website collaborators for faculty to consult about missing content.
Too bad this information wasn't brought to the meeting as a solution for the frustrated faculty.
First impressions mean something.
What are your first impressions as a prospective student or parent of a prospective student to a website that doesn't work? Chances are you may think this institution is not professional and can't be taken seriously.
Pictures of confused squirrels certainly don't help with our image.
The only thing worse than turning in an assignment late, is turning in an assignment that's incomplete because you already know you're destined to fail.